This article was originally posted on WomenLearnThai.com.
Happy Mothers Day from Thailand…
Did you know August 12th is one of the most revered days of the year for Thai people?
As a young child I can remember celebrating August 12th by making a present for a special visitor to my school.
And when the day finally arrived each of us students had a special guest at school.
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Our own Mothers greeted us as guests at school and received our creations with tears in their eyes.
What’s so special about August 12th?
It’s Mother’s Day in Thailand.
You might wonder why Mother’s Day is so important to Thais. After-all, Western countries have Mother’s Day too.
The difference is in the social structure of the family. Thai children are taught to respect their parents and to be prepared to take care of their parents in their old age.
This is a task they take on willingly and lovingly. There is nothing a Thai person wouldn’t do for their mother.
In 1976 the Thai government decreed August 12th (The Queen’s Birthday) to be Mother’s Day.
In addition Jasmine was chosen as the symbol of Mothers Day in Thailand.
Because it’s pure white color and angelic aroma signify the love a Mother has for her child.
As students the reverence for our Mothers is reinforced.
I was given white paper in school to create a jasmine flower for my Mother.
Like most Thai children, it would have been much too expensive for me to purchase a real Jasmine flower for my Mother. The bonus is she can keep it a little longer too!!!
Then, on Mothers Day, our moms visit the school.
Thai kids are very shy and I had to build up a lot of courage to give the flower to my Mother and bow at her feet. But it was all worth it when I saw she had tears in her eyes. I knew she was emotionally touched.
Thais even have a Mothers Day song. It was written by Paiboon Butkan, who’s beloved Mother took care of him even though he had leprosy.
Others stopped going near him but his Mother would not abandon him.
The song is very popular, you hear it wherever you go: television, radio, etc. The children practice it at school.
Every Thai knows this song by heart. It’s imprinted on our hearts. It touches us deeply. In its translated form it uses Mother’s milk as a euphemism for the lifelong care you receive from your Mother. Here it is:
Value of Breast Milk ค่าน้ำนม /kâa náam nom/…
mâe née mee bun kun an yài lŭang
Mother is the greatest benefactor…
têe fâo hŭang hùang lôokd tàe lăng mêua yang non bplay
…who has been cherishing us since we were gently rocked in cradles.
mâe rao fâo ôh lá hày
Mother soothes her babies to sleep with lullabies…
glòm lôok nói non bplay mâi hàang hăn hăy bpi jon glai
…and never leaves us alone.
mêua lék jon dtoh ôh mâe tà-nŏm
Since our childhood, a watchful eye of mother has been kept on us.
mâe pàai-pŏm yôm gèrt jàak rák lôok bpàk duang jai
Her weight loss ensures the wholehearted love she has.
dtèrp dtoh ôh lék jon yài
What else could be the reason for how we grow up today…
mêe làe năa a-rai mí châi dai năa prór kâa náam nom
…other than the breast milk.
kuan kít pí-nít hâi dee
Take into consideration…
kâa náam nom mâe née jà mee a-rai mòr sŏm
…what else could be comparable to the breast milk.
ôh wâa mâe jăa lôok kít tĕung kâa náam nom
Mother, I miss the milk you once breastfed.
lêuat nai òk pà-sŏm glàn bpen nám nom hâi lôok dèum gin
The bloodstream of hers turns into milk for us.
kâa náam nom kuan chuan hâi lôok făng
The value of breast milk will be every child’s lasting reminder.
dtàe mêua lăng bprìap dang pĕun fáa nàk gwàa pàen din
It is compared as the far-flung sky and heavier than the earth.
bùat rian pâak-pian jon sîn
No matter what we have done and how hard we have tried…
yòt nèung nám nom gin tót taen mâi sîn prá kun mâe oie
…nothing can compensate for one drop of milk and the kindness of mothers.
Every time this song comes to mind I get a big lump in my throat and a tear in my eye. Now it’s my turn to support my mother and I do it just as many Thai have for ages.
I’m often asked by my students, “Why do I have to support my Thai girlfriend’s mother?”
The answer is: That’s the Thai way. Our elderly relatives have always been taken care of by their families. As the song says, “Nothing can compensate for one drop of breast milk and the kindness of mothers.” We feel like, whatever we do for our mothers, it won’t be enough to make up for everything she has done for us.
I would like to credit this post to my Mother. She has been a single mother of two and she put everything she had into raising me and my brother. I wouldn’t be who I am today without her.
Btw: If you want to Learn Thai Mother’s Day Song, you can do so on my site.
Happy Mothers Day from Thailand!