On The Maternal
Words by Ellie Fazan
Bees buzzing in the flowers. The garden bursting into bloom. Afternoons creeping lazily into evenings. The world so vibrant and verdant. Fresh with anticipation.
As a five-year-old I moved from frenetic Hong Kong to a tiny sleepy seaside village in Devon. It was May. Our garden stretched for an eternity. Butterflies pranced around the lilac bushes. A golden early summer remained, sun high in the sky well into evening. As a child of the Tropics, I could not understand why my mother was sending me to bed in what seemed like mid-afternoon.
Everything was new to me. On the very brink of summer, all things seem possible in May.
The halfway point between Spring Equinox and Summer Solstice, the celebration of May Day dates back to ancient times in Europe, originating in pre-historic agricultural rituals for life and fertility. The Romans, for example, celebrated the goddess Flora on 1st May.
In Britain, the Celts celebrated Beltane. In Edinburgh, they still do. Roughly translating as ‘bright fire’, on the evening of 30th April several thousand people (many of them naked, decorated in body paint and foraged headdresses) gather on Carlton Hill to perform ancient ceremonial rights, lighting a huge fire and dancing until dawn. The fire is believed to cleanse, purify and increase fertility of festival participants.
Other parts of Britain and Europe saw children decorated in flowers, who would then dance around maypoles – sapling trees chopped down and erected on the village green. May baskets were also given – small baskets of sweets or flowers left on neighbours’ doorsteps.
In Hong Kong, we carry on these rites by celebrating our mothers, to whom we traditionally give flowers during this time. And yet Mother’s Day can be bittersweet. No matter how much we love them, relationships with our mums are complicated and it’s a hard time of year for those who have lost their mothers, who wish to be mothers, or who have experienced some kind of maternal loss, lack or longing in any way.
But maternal love isn’t just about having children. It’s about the qualities of love: compassion, kindness, selflessness and wisdom. So, we want to rededicate Mother’s Day to all the figures who have loved and nurtured us. Those who have held us up when we struggled.
We believe this season should be about celebrating not just our mothers, but all those from whom we have felt maternal love. This issue, we hear from women about their experience of nurture – whether that be from people, places, experiences or objects. Photographer, Marta Scotti speaks of capturing the maternal on film; while Pristine Lampard demonstrates a caring new model for business. We also hear from Natalia Swartz on how environments nurture her art, and how Valeria Ganzman honours her grandmother through her work.
We encourage you to celebrate this time of year and give the gift of flowers this season. The Mother Wild Bouquet sings of its sentiments: a flurry of our favourite early-summer blooms including Lilac and the ever-loved Peony – a symbol of love, honour, happiness and beauty. Originating in China – where they were the national flower until 1929. the flower was incidentally used to relieve the pain of childbirth and feels ever so fitting for Mother’s Day celebrations. But their season lasts only from mid-April to mid-May, symbolic of this special moment between spring and summer. As they bloom they die. They are thus a poignant tribute to the fragility and fleeting nature of life.
The Floristry views this time of year, poised as it is on the brink of summer, as a reminder that all things will pass. That we must make the most of this moment. Reach out to those we love. Nurture ourselves and those around us. Bring colour into our lives. Recognise and enjoy the present. Because like even the most beautiful May afternoons of our childhood, it won’t last forever.