At AdventureWomen, we love learning about the rich and diverse traditions behind the many, different cultures we meet in our travels. This month, they’re all about mothers and motherhood. Read on!
Mothers are revered in Bhutan and are therefore carefully looked after during their pregnancies. The birth of a newborn is also always celebrated in Bhutan. Three days after a birth, a purification ritual is performed for the mother and her child after which outsiders are allowed to then meet with them and offer them gifts, typically clothes, money, and even dairy products. A highly religious figure (or lama) gives the name to the child not the mother. Newborn babies with mothers also receive blessings from the local deity and the name associated with that deity is given to the child or sometimes the name of the day the child was born on. A horoscope is also written by the lama which prescribes the various rituals to be conducted at various points in the child’s life based on the Bhutanese calendar.
The role of the mother is highly valued in Peruvian culture and “Dia de la Madre” (the second Sunday each May) is special day for most families. On Mother’s Day, young Peruvian children buy small gifts and cards for their mothers and read them poems. Families also get together for recreation and high tea and many Peruvians visit local cemeteries to honor all mothers who are deceased. Families commonly hire workers on Mother’s Day to clean tomb stones and place flowers on graves which are difficult to access.
In Vietnam, the role of the mother in the family is one of honor. The strong matriarchal heritage of Vietnam dates back to the country’s earliest history when women in Vietnam often took leadership positions in the community. Strong female leaders in Vietnamese history such as the famous warriors of Trưng Trắc and Trưng Nhị, the Trung Sisters, (40 AD) and Trieu Thi Trinh (3rd century) played crucial roles in resisting Chinese rule and the preservation of independence for Vietnam. The impact that these women had within the country, deeply influenced the way in which Vietnamese appreciate women in society today.
Vietnam celebrates mothers on the equivalent of Mother’s Day known as Mua Vu Lan, a day held on the seventh full moon of the lunar calendar and closely connected to the Asian tradition of ancestor worship and filial piety. This celebratory day is a time for Vietnamese children to express their gratitude for their mothers and also commemorates a spiritual tradition in Vietnam where the lost souls of ancestors find their way back to earth.
Pregnancy in Moroccan culture is an important milestone in a family’s life, partially attributed to the role of mothers in the religion of Islam. Pregnancy in Moroccan culture is seen by many as the true “seal” on a marriage and thus is strongly encouraged. Pregnant mothers in Morocco are often pampered and encouraged to have all their cravings quickly satisfied to prevent birthmarks on their babies according to old Moroccan “wives tales”. Pregnant women typically are given the best quality of food available to the family especially ”Bledi” (food from the countryside or a family member’s farm). And their hands and feet are often hennaed for good luck.
The majority of Moroccans do not prepare the traditional layette typical in many other countries. Usually, only the basics are purchased by the mother of the mom-to-be and the father-to-be with the unspoken assumption that it is better to wait and have a healthy birth first before buying additional items they might need. Baby showers are also uncommon in Morocco. Gifts for newborns are given at the “Aqiqah” or Naming Party. At this celebration, a sacrifice of an animal (one if it’s a girl and two if it is a boy) is made, usually a goat or sheep. This is usually done on the seventh day after the birth or a day that is a multiple of seven after the seventh day such as 14th or 21st day. The Aqiqah is intended to bestow blessings on a child from Allah and protect the child from Shaytan (satan). Family members, neighbors, and friends as well as poorer members of the community are invited to help the family celebrate the blessed occasion.
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