Celebrating Mothers—in China

Mothers are celebrated on many different days around the world. In every month of the year, except January and September, Mother’s Day—or Mothering Sunday in the UK—is celebrated in some country somewhere in the world. In many countries, including China, mothers are celebrated on the second Sunday of May.

That may soon change. China Daily reported that at a forum held last month by the Chinese Academy of Mencius (CAM) it was proposed to set aside April 2 as the day for Chinese people to show piety to their mothers.

Li Cunshan, CAM special deputy dean, said that more than 80 countries in the world had a Mother's Day, while China did not.

"Many Chinese people show their affection to their mothers on the second Sunday of May, or Mother's Day that is originally celebrated in the United States," Li said. "We do expect to have our own Mother's Day."

Why might the members of the Chinese Academy of Mencius be concerned about honoring mothers? The mother of Mencius, the “Second Sage” of Confucianism, is known as one of the four great mothers of China. It’s thought that Mencius’ father died when he was young, leaving Mencius and his mother destitute. Stories are told of his mother’s determination to provide Mencius with a good education despite their poverty.[1] Definitely a mother worthy of honor!

Until they make the switch to April 2, I think we should still celebrate the moms of China this weekend. A good way to do that would be to read about another of the great mothers of China, Chen Zhi-Niang. Her story is told in 陈织娘的一生 (A Wind in the Door). Sadly for those of us who don’t read Chinese well, the book is only available in Chinese. But a summary of her inspiring story can be read in “Bringing up Men of God” a translation of a Chinese review of the book published as part of the 2016 summer issue of ChinaSource Quarterly.

Dr. Stephen Chong-Rong Tong, one of Chen Zhi-Niang’s six sons who went on to serve in full-time Christian ministry said of his mother:

I remember vividly at eight years of age that every day I woke up to the voice of my mother praying. I recall her telling me, “Because you have the fear of the Lord, I can take comfort no matter where you go. I don’t need to fret over you because I know you have the fear of the Lord in your heart. My responsibility is complete. “My mother was not highly educated, but was wise because she feared and honored God.

Truly a mother to honor.

Image credit: Mom, daughter, and rabbit, Anyang, China by V.T. Polywoda via Flickr.