There is a curious tradition in Sibu , The Methodist churches celebrate Parents' Day (on Mother's Day): those who have both parents still living would wear a red paper carnation and those who have one parent only would wear a white and red carnation.
Those who have lost both parents would wear a white carnation.
The paper flowers would be given at the door of the church on Sunday morning. All the paper carnations would be made by the church ladies from traditional crepe paper.
After my father's untimely death when I, the eldest, was only 16, my siblings would pick a a white and a red carnation on Parents' Day at church. It was a strange ritual but for that Sunday, we would all look at each and realise that so many people had only one parent to help them along. Those with both parents were happy in their own little world.
Paper flower making was brought to Sibu by Mrs. Hoover who taught her students to make beautiful crepe paper flowers. Most of the girls were so good in making them that on their wedding day, they made their own bouquet. Before the Second World War, Sibu organised the sale of paper flowers to raise funds for the China Disaster Fund and also contributed to the War Fund of Great Britain . (Re: Sarawak Gazette, Sarawak Almanac)
Graduates from Yuk Ing Girls' School were the first choice for brides by Foochow families in those day because they were well trained in home science by Mrs. Hoover.
Carnations in the United States are used for Mother's Day flower since Anna Jarvis delivered 500 of them at the first celebration in 1908. Florists later invented the idea of wearing a red carnation if your mother was living or a white one if she was dead. Hence the Methodist Church of Sarawak, having its origin in the American Methodist Church adopted this idea.
Mother's day cards in the olden days also featured carnations. Here is one from Northern Pacific Railway 1915
Today the tradition of wearing a flower on Parents' Day continues in many churches but some churches only make red flowers for every one. We have to realise that we come from a pair of parents and from God and we need to show that we love our parents,one of whom may be in heaven. So wearing of red flowers should indicate our love and respect for both our parents and for God.
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