May 2017

The story behind Mother's Day

THE HEROINES OF THE HILL FOUGHT FOR FREEDOM

By: Melanie Hazenberg
Projects Abroad Volunteer


Photos by: Melanie Hazenberg

Mother's Day can be one of the most beautiful days or a painful reminder of a missing piece of your life. This day is being celebrated by people all over the world, but in Bolivia it is more special than anywhere else. Not only because a woman is the most important person in a home, but also because of the history of the 27th of May, which has been one of the most important days in the Bolivia's history.

For some mothers, Mother's Day is the best day of their lives. For mothers in Europe with young children, Mother's Day is most of the time over after five minutes after they gave their presents. Then it is just like every day, Children's Day! On Mother's Day, we pay homage to the one who gave us life. The woman is the most important person in a home, especially in Bolivia. She is the one who is in charge of the household economy and the support of the entire household. The women from this unique day in May in Bolivia are "The Heroines of the Hill." Allow me to explain this special story.

Women fighting for freedom

May 27th, 1812 was the first time women participated in battle. In 1812, Latin America was fighting for independence from Spain. The king of Spain sent general Goyeneche to the valleys of Cochabamba. While the men were dying in a bloody battle, the women decided to defend their community by themselves. Under the orders of Josefa Manuela Gandarillas (who was elderly and blind), an army was formed. The army consisted only of women, children, and elders. They were armed with small weapons such as saucepans and sticks. They climbed the Coronilla (San Sebastián Hill) with the belief "Our home is sacred," carrying the image of the Virgin of Mercy. On May 27th, 1812, a day we will never forget, the inevitable happened. General Goyeneche and his army slaughtered hundreds of women. There was plenty of pain in the community, but through this pain grew new hope. The women who were killed, are now known as "Heroinas de la Coronilla" or "Heroines of the Hill." Every year, millions of Bolivians celebrate Mother's Day on this date, remembering these heroic women. Today, their lives and the battle they lost are remembered as one of the most special days of the year. There is always a big party during Mother's Day.

Way of celebrating in Bolivia

Typically in Bolivia, children from elementary schools invite their mothers to their schools. At school, the children show their mothers what they have learned, such as some typical Bolivian dances or tender songs. The children have been practicing for a month to do this performance, so everything is done with pure happiness and delight. It is a very special day for the mothers and their children. Not only because they can show their mothers their beautiful dances, but also because of the special meaning of this day as I mentioned previously. Almost every mother celebrates Mother's Day at the same way.

Special day for every mother in the world

For mothers all around the world this day is very special. Only Bolivia celebrates Mother's Day on the 27th but it is a big party everywhere.

"I really like to be aware of the great relationship I have with my kids once a year. I am very grateful. The most beautiful presents for Mother's Day were when my kids were little. They gave my self-made crafts. I still kept everything somewhere." (The Netherlands) Another reaction is: "We always celebrate Mother's Day with presents, breakfast in bed, and we are also going to the grandmothers, because they are mothers, too." (The United States). "In Bolivia, they celebrate this day with a lot of joy in schools. Mother's Day is a very happy day for me. I am always going to the school of the children, were they are showing me dances. My husband buys always some presents and he and my kids make breakfast for me. We are also always going to my mother to celebrate."(Bolivia)

I think it is very special to honor our mothers on the day when hundreds of women died and gave their lives.


Credits: static.panoramio.com/photos/large

Almost every mother celebrates Mother's Day in the same way.

In the United States, Mother's Day is a big event. Phone lines have heavy traffic during this day and there is a peak in restaurants. Traditions in the United States include breakfast in bed, giving flowers or other gifts. In France, people celebrate this day on the last Sunday of the month of May. The mother is mostly being honored with a cake that looks like a bouquet of flowers. In India, Mother's Day is a big hype. It has been commercialized to a great extent. Big companies launch women oriented products. Also the media creates a big hype about this day with special television programs and features. Unlike other countries, Spain celebrates Mother's Day in December. The Spaniards pay not only tribute to their own mothers, but also to Virgin Mary. So Mother's Day is in general in Spain a religious celebration. In England, the people already celebrated Mother's Day in the 17th century. This country was the first one to dedicate a day especially for mothers. In the United Kingdom, there is the tradition to make a rich almond cake for mothers called "Mothering Cake"' or "Simnel Cake."

I think that you now have a good understanding of how the Bolivian people celebrate Mother's Day and why on May 27th. I think it is very special to honor our mothers on the day when hundreds of women died and gave their lives. Every country has a special reason to honor mothers on this beautiful day.

Sources
http://info.handicraft-bolivia.com/Mother-s-Day-an-event-tied-to-Bolivia-s-history-a30-sm162
https://www.bolivianlife.com/mothers-day-bolivian-women-dying-for-freedom/
http://www.boliviabella.com/mothers-day.html

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