By Mayté Solano Gómez

Every 2nd Sunday of May in Cuba is a family party. It is Mother’s Day. The traditions and ways of celebrating are varied, but they are all a true example of the joy and informality of the Cubans.

What we usually do in Cuba

First officially held in the USA in 1914, nowadays when the date is approaching sales in stores and shops increase considerably. Bottles of wine, flowers and postcards, chocolates, perfumes … a whole range of different show our love for our mothers and grandmothers. In Cuba, the poorer ones turn to the “Todo x1″ (All x1”) option. Shampoos, earrings and hair ornaments, wall pictures, alarm clocks … all much cheaper. As long as they are given from the heart, they become the best gift for every mother.

In the case of children, their gifts are often the best for many mothers . They overflow with sincere love. Handmade, with a minimum of help, drawings are usually the most common. Mostly you can see in them mom, grandparents, dad, little brothers. In addition to hearts and phrases like “TE AMO” (“I LOVE YOU”) and “FELICIDADES MAMÁ” (“CONGRATULATIONS MOM”). Flowers are also part of the tradition on this date, along with postcards. In schools photographers offer their services to make personalized cards.

Personalized postcards for Mother´s Day in Cuba
In schools photographers offer their services to make personalized cards.

As well as gifts, the most common thing is to meet with the closest family and prepare a delicious family dinner. This is the case for the owner of the casa particular Casa Bahia Habana. The ideal Mother’s Day “is a day when the whole family gathers in my house, we make a special lunch and we go to the cemetery in the afternoon to put flowers on the graves of the mothers of the family who are no longer with us.”

Other Cuban families prefer to eat in restaurants. For me personally, going out with my children and my husband is the ideal Mother’s Day. Everyone else on the street congratulates me as well.

“The best gift for me is when my children spend that day with me and their dad. They always give me presents that I like, ”says the owner of Casa Bahía Habana.

Origin of the celebration of Mother´s Day

It is said that it was more than 3000 years ago, in ancient Greece, in honor of Rea, mother of the gods Zeus, Poseidon and Hades. In the modern era, it is in the USA where the traditions that remain today began and from there it spread to other countries. This dates back to 1865, on the initiative of Julia Ward Howe in Boston. Around the same time, Ann Jarvis, a Virginia activist, seeing the success of Howe’s calls, also organized meetings. However, it was not until 1914 that it became official with the signature of President Woodrow Wilson officially recognizing Mother’s Day.

Today very few know that the red flowers on Mother’s Day represented living mothers, while the white ones were in honor of the deceased.

The celebration date varies from country to country. Most are celebrated in May, although on different days. Other months in which Mother´s Day is commemorated are February, March, April, August, October, November and December. Likewise, the reason for celebration is not only associated with the biological mother, but in some countries the date is celebrated on the day of the nation’s independence, considering it as the “Motherland”.

In Cuba, the holiday was officially approved in 1920. Since that first celebration of Mother’s Day, the date chosen and which remains is the 2nd Sunday of May.

What will Mother´s Day be like in Cuba in this year of coronavirus?

This Mother’s Day in Cuba will definitely be different. No restaurants where you can have a family dinner, no visits to cemeteries. Not even thinking about visiting family and friends, or making big gift purchases in stores.

Casa particular in Old Havana, Havana, Cuba
Casa Bahia Habana
“This Sunday I plan to be with my mom, my mother-in-law, my daughter and her husband, and my husband,” says the owner of Casa Bahía Habana.

Nor will the traditional postcards commemorating the ocassion be marketed in the usual way, through the national postal network. However, Correos de Cuba proposes digital postcards to reach our loved ones who are close, but at the same time so far.

In any case, the most sincere congratulations to all the mothers of the world. And the wish that, despite the coronavirus pandemic, you have a beautiful day.

Digital postcard for Mother´s Day in Cuba
“To say Mother is to say Love”