Mother's Day—or some form of it—is now widely celebrated in over seventy countries around the world, as summarized by a popular Mother’s Day website:
While the United States’ version of Mother’s Day — the version most widely exported to the rest of the world — has secular humanist roots followed up by extensive commercialization, many countries regardless of this Western trend, continue to attach more symbolic and/or religious importance to their Mother’s Day celebrations.
In Spain for example, Mother’s Day takes place during the Feast of the Immaculate Conception on December 8th a day of veneration of the Virgin Mary, and by extension, all other mothers, as well. In Ethiopia the holiday is tied to seasons and agriculture, and in Yugoslavia it leads up to Christmas, commemorating the Motherhood of Christ.
And on these days, in these and other countries, the celebrations have included everything from the typical western traditions of giving flowers and chocolates, to serenading (in Mexico), and the bestowing of bronze, silver and gold medals for abundance of procreation (in post-World War I France, as motivation to repopulate following the devastation of the war).
In Ethiopia, mothers and daughters may be treated to a beauty ritual of slathering their faces and chests with butter.
But the Yugoslavian and Serbian traditions are particularly interesting. Theirs is a December celebration spread out over a series of three holidays leading up to Christmas. On the first, children are tied up (all in fun, folks!) until they make vows and promises of good behavior. On the second, the children have the opportunity to retaliate and tie up their mothers until they promise them goodies and treats. Finally, on the third, mom and kids unite to tie up dear old dad until he promises lavish gifts, which he usually doles out in the form of the family's Christmas presents.
In this tradition, Mother’s Day (and Children’s and Father’s Day, as well!) seem to be more about getting than giving and being honored rather than honoring—an interesting twist on a usually “other” centered holiday.
If we’re honest, isn’t this the way we all-to-often choose to “honor” God?
Yes, we give him our lip service of praise and adoration, or bless him with our attendance at church or gifts in the tithe basket, all the while expecting that as a result of our devotion He’ll give us goodies and treats and lavish gifts. We "tie him up," so to speak, to see what we can get from Him.
Genuine honor and devotion is subverted by our selfish motivations. This is true whether we are seeking to honor our earthly mothers (and fathers) OR our Heavenly Father. He is worthy of our honor simply because of Who He is, not because of what gives us.
"Worthy is the Lamb, who was slain, to receive power and wealth and wisdom and strength and honor and glory and praise!" (Revelation 5:12).