May is our hottest and driest month of the calendar year. Most folks look for shelter indoors midday and reach for chilled liquid refreshments to endure the sun and heat. You wouldn’t think May is a month that would motivate anyone to plan a celebration, but May means Mother’s Day at Lake Chapala, one of most important celebrations for everyone living here.
North of the border, it’s customary to set aside the second Sunday in May for Mother’s Day to pay tribute to our mothers. Floral shops and candy stores usually do a brisk business that weekend and for a few days leading up to that Sunday. In Mexico, the calendar for May takes a mildly different approach by designating May 10th as Mother’s Day, regardless of the day of the week. Retail stores, the street market tianguis in every village and street vendors along the carretera and other main arteries promote gift suggestions starting in late April for our special ladies.
The floral bouquets and candy are welcomed and appreciated, but a Mexican mother could also eagerly look forward to a new house appliance that might ease or improve her household chores in the months ahead. Mother’s Day in Mexico reflects the love within the family for madre. Families that have the financial wherewithal reserve a large table at a local restaurant and the seating of honor begins with the grandmother(s) followed by mother(s), wives and daughters. Families too large or lacking financial means, gather at a home and the younger generation, along with the menfolk, assume all the household chores that day and prepare traditional Mexican comida of favorites.
Here at Lake Chapala, with a large expat population of Canadian and American mothers, the ladies often are treated to two days of celebration: the second Sunday in May, as well as the Mexican Mother’s Day of May 10th.
Local restaurants that usually cater to expats promote more traditional menu options found in Canada and the United States for the Sunday comida celebration. Among the expats, it usually is the wife alone to be honored and dined. Weekends at Lake Chapala frequently draw Guadalajara residents to their lakeside vacation homes, and Mother’s Day weekend offers these ladies a taste of north-of-the-border specialties.
On May 10th, though not a designated national holiday in Mexico, many businesses offer lady employees the day off. The more traditional local Mexican restaurants prepare for a brisk day of business and it is common to see just male employees working that day.
My wife Catherine makes the selection of where we will eat on Sunday, the traditional expat Mother’s Day, and I select a restaurant to host her on May 10th when Mexico celebrates the special day.
My choice for most of the 15 years we have lived at Lake Chapala is MinWah, a Chinese restaurant that has a marvelous buffet selection that features salad and fresh seasonal fruit as an appetizer, a choice of two soups and a wide variety of selections on the steam table. This all-you-can-eat buffet also has a tempting selection of desserts to choose from. The buffet includes tea, coffee or refresco and unlimited margaritas “on the rocks” from salted-rim glasses. An added pleasure is a trio or quartet of musicians providing live dinner music. To top-off the celebration, every lady receives a long-stem rose.
The weather may be warm outside in May, but it is no comparison to the warmth found in the hearts of the locals as they honor their ladies. Some may perceive Mexico as a male-dominant society, but as May 10th approaches, every man in Mexico seems to take the time celebrate his mom, the queen of his heart.