Russian Time Magazine

Mother's Day: To disown the holiday or embrace it with love

Photo: depositphotos

American Anna Jarvis, who began campaigning for the establishment of Mother's Day in 1908, disowned it before her death in 1948. She even sought its cancellation from the US authorities

Mother's Day was first celebrated in the United States on May 10, 1908, in the city of West Virginia. Anna Jarvis believed that homage should be paid to the sacrifices mothers make for their children. In 1914, US President Woodrow Wilson officially recognized it as a national holiday. Like all such events, flower sellers, card manufacturers, and other merchants were delighted with its popularity. Jarvis was so irritated by the commercialization of her idea that she attempted to rescind it.

However, Mother's Day has persisted and is celebrated in the United States to this day. It is one of the most popular holidays and, of course, one of the largest in terms of consumer spending.
This year, Mother's Day falls on May 12. To understand how important this holiday is for an ordinary American family, we spoke with Svetlana Lukyanova, a Ukrainian living in Fair Lawn, NJ, for almost 30 years.
Photo: photo from the Lukyanov family archive
About children who could have never been born

Mother's Day is one of our favorite holidays. I grew up without a mother; she passed away early, and the word "mother" was always sacred in our family. Over 30 years ago, I got married; Sasha was from Moscow, so we moved to the capital of Russia. When I became pregnant, they tried to deprive me of motherhood. From a simple clinic, we ended up at a prestigious hospital, and even there, they told me to have an abortion, otherwise, with my diagnoses, "you will die, and the child will be born disabled" (I don't want to be intolerant to any illness, but this was the direct message from the doctors). After hearing the medical verdict, my husband and I got into the car, and he said, "Look at us, we are two young, beautiful people, can we afford for you to die and the child not to be born? We need to decide something."
"America gave me motherhood"

As my favorite Marina Tsvetaeva said, "Real motherhood is courageous." I believe that I bravely made a decision and took the risk to go to a country where I had practically nothing and no one was waiting for me. There were only my father's colleagues; he worked in the US for some time. After our arrival, during a consultation, Dr. Yefim Kilinsky told me, "Everyone has their own problems, someone drinks, someone is a drug addict, someone has genetic diseases. You have your own story, and despite your illness, the child will be normal, you will be fine. And we won't let you die." After the birth of our son, we lived in America for another year to make sure that everything was okay with the child. And only then did we return to Russia. And when I became pregnant for the second time, we already knew what to do. Our family flew to the United States and stayed here forever. America gave me motherhood. These simple human relationships were so important. My husband and I are both humanitarians: he is an actor, and I am a philologist, and a normal emotional state is as essential to us as air.
Big family gathering

On Mother's Day, we try to gather the whole family, although it doesn't always work out. This year, only our daughter Alice will come; she graduated from college with a degree in mechanical engineering and lives in another city. Our son Alexander specializes in biomedical engineering. Last year he lived in California, and now he moved to Florida, so he can't always make it to all the holidays. This year, I'll receive greetings from him online.

But this big family gathering is very important. For us and our friends, there are only a few such holidays in the United States: Thanksgiving, Christmas or Hanukkah (depending on what people celebrate), and Mother's Day. Kipling was absolutely right when he said that God could not be everywhere, and therefore he created mothers. I think these words are like a motto for America, which is still a religious country. Mother's Day came to the US from Britain, where it began to be celebrated in the 17th century. These were Mothering Sundays when workers were given time off to spend with their children. It's great that immigrants brought them to our young country (compared to Europe).
Photo: photo from the Lukyanov family archive
Pure commerce?

Our family actively participates in the commercialization of the holiday (laughs). Mother's Day very often is celebrated in restaurants to ease her workload and really give her a break. This year, for example, we will go to a Georgian restaurant. Alice loves Georgian cuisine. And usually, it's also heaps of flowers, decorations, or perfumes. Alice, for example, spent a month working in China, and as we both love different teas, she brought me a box of some exclusive beverage. But even the box itself is a work of art.

But I wouldn't say it's all just pure commerce. I worked as a teacher for many years. And always a week before Mother's Day, we taught poems, made cards, and crafts. I have a whole chest of various crafts and greetings from my children and my students. It's very touching.