There’s an American holiday next week (May 9) known as Mother’s Day. The origins of this holiday according to Wikipedia have nothing to do with pagan traditions.
Can I wish my mother happy mother’s day and even get her a gift in honor of the day? Or is there some issue of bechukoseihem lo telechu or otherwise?
Thank you for your question.
Before getting to your question, let’s first understand the general rules of chukas hagoyim. There are few types of actions that can halachically be included in chukos hagoyim. Either a custom that the gentiles do that has no reason, or at least no known reason. For example, there are certain haircuts that the gentiles have that has no rational reason, they would be included in chukas hagoyim. Or if they have a certain mode of dress which is meant to promote promiscuity (pritzus). Additionally, if a certain custom is done by the gentiles for their idol worship, then we don’t do it.
Another point is that even if the gentiles have a certain mode of dress, but the person is doing it for a specific reason, and not in order to act similar to the gentiles, it is permitted. For example, a doctor who wears a white coat to show that he is a doctor is permitted.
There are opinions in the poskim that takes a stricter approach, and frowns upon any custom that the gentiles have adopted. However as stated, the Rema says that it is specifically if it an action that has no reason, or for pritzus, (and according to others, if it is an action done for avoda zara).
Regarding wishing one’s mother a happy Mother’s Day, is not pritzus, and even if it is a custom that the gentiles have adopted, it has a logical reason- basic recognition of one’s parent’s. Therefore, halachically is it permitted. There are however those who would abstain from this, just because they want to separate themselves from any gentile custom. In truth, for us Jews, every day is Mother’s and Father’s Day. We are commanded to honor our parents all year long and not just only on Mother’s or Father’s Day. We give honor to our parent’s all year long, and we don’t only remember them with a card once a year… although once a year is better than nothing.
Mahari Kolon 88, Shulchan Aruch and Rema Y:D 178-1,2, Divrei Shaul YL:D 348, Sridei Aish 2-39 (25), Hisorirus L’teshuva 4 (on Shulchan Aruch) pg. 296, Dirvei Malkiel 5-234 D:H V’od d’kivan, Igros Moshe Y:D 1-85, Chukas Olam chap. 1.