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Mother's Day

In Mexico, the designation had more to do with marketing than with politics
By The News · 10 of May 2017 08:51:02
Presents, No available, photo: Pexels

Today is Mother’s Day in Mexico. The fact that in 2017 Mother’s Day is being celebrated on a Wednesday, coincides with the foundation of this particular choice of day in this nation.

Unlike in the United States, where President Woodrow Wilson declared in 1913 the second Sunday of May to celebrate motherhood, in Mexico the designation had more to do with marketing than with politics. In fact, as far as I know, no president in history has declared May 10 as the official Mother’s Day. But it is.

Yet the celebration of the second Sunday of May in the United States highly influenced Mexico. It was the publisher of daily newspaper Excelsior, Rafael Alducin, who concocted the idea of honoring mothers on a special date.

Why Wednesday May 10, 1922? There is no logic or a particular reason, but when Mother’s Day had been celebrated consecutively and very successfully in the United States publisher Alducin — which no other newspaper did at the time — opened his eyes wide open to the fact that newspapers were plump and heavy with advertising all over the USA and publishing companies had their coffers stuffed with greenbacks.

At the time, Excelsior was the second leading newspaper in Mexico City (hence the nation) and Mr. Alducin went about silently and quietly asking the big elegant department stores of the day if they would participate in a special package to promote May 10 as Mother’s Day and since he was well liked and a member of the then high-brow society (he began his publishing career with a sports car specialty magazine), advertisers just poured in to support his idea.

The campaign began in the last week of April and worked up a lot of sweat into May 9, enticing all those who love their mothers to shower her with presents and in the wee hours of May 10 serenade the old lady with love mariachi and string bands reminiscing of the old days, but mainly to tell her that her children love her.

Those were still the days when newspapers were king. There was no radio (the first station in Mexico, XEQ, went on the air in 1924), and most definitely the celebration was the single handed making of Excelsior.

At the time, the “department” stores — nothing to do with today’s mammoth facilities — that were in vogue were, firstly, Paris-Londres, El Puerto de Veracruz and definitely still going strong El Palacio de Hierro.

But it was not just these stores supporting the idea but also a myriad of eateries such as Sanborn’s and Bar La Opera, as well as Mexico City’s oldest restaurant, La Posada de Santo Domingo, inviting sons and daughters to invite mother for lunch. That’s a way to fill up newspaper pages.

The success of the first celebration was such that other publishing companies, such as the city’s oldest newspaper “El Universal” decided to create their own Mother’s Day campaigns from 1923 on, which is a tradition that is still here today.

Whatever has happened over the years — like composers coming up with songs to their own mothers — is now the past.

But May 10, 1922, was indeed a momentous and widely celebrated day in modern Mexican history and most definitely it is here to stay.