6 March 2016

My husband swallowed the kids | A brief History of Mother's Day

Mother's Day is a time to make mum feel special, let her put her feet up and enjoy being pampered. It's been that way for as long as I can remember, but why we celebrate Mother's Day dates back even further than you might think.

Mother’s Day in Ancient Greece

I’ve traced the origins of Mother’s Day all the way the back to 1650 BC and the ancient Greek festival dedicated to Rhea, the Mother of the Gods. According to Greek mythology Rhea was the Mother of Zeus, the God of the sky that ruled over all the Olympian Gods. Zeus was especially close to his Mother who had saved him from being swallowed, as his brothers and sisters were, by his Father Cronus. Cronus lived in fear of being overthrown by his Children, as he had overthrown his own Father, Uranus, by castrating him.  A Mother’s love is a powerful thing, and super mum Rhea managed to save Zeus from Cronus by hiding him in a cave.  Just imagine the gifts Zeus would have conjured up for his Mother Rhea to mark the day she  saved him from his nasty Dad.  Well, we do know actually. When Zeus grew up he repaid his Mother by forcing Cronus to disgorge his brothers and sisters and return them to their Mother. The ancient Greeks truly honoured Rhea for her act of courage in saving Zeus which is probably where early Mother’s Day all started.

Interesting Fact | Zeus was born in what is now the popular holiday destination of Crete

Did the Ancient Romans and European Celts celebrate Mother’s Day?

The Roman ancients liked their Gods as well and Romans were given a holiday in March to celebrate Mother Goddess Cybele.  The ancient Celts of Europe too had their own goddess St. Brigid, who is believed to represent a spring Mother's Day, a celebration probably connected with the first milk of the ewes, but enough of the ancients...

Mother’s Day, Christianity and the Mother of God

Nearer to home the phrase Mothering Sunday was first coined by the Tudors in the 1600s and for Christians Mothering Sunday was always the fourth Sunday of Lent which is why, incidentally, the Sunday Mother’s Day is celebrated changes every year. Originally, as Christianity spread throughout Europe, the celebration honoured the "Mother Church" but now the focus is on the Mother only.  In Catholicism special importance is placed on the Mother, as Mary, is believed to be the Mother of God, so maybe that’s another reason why we celebrate Mother’s Day.

Interesting Fact | Mother’s Day in the UK is always celebrated on the fourth Sunday of Lent

How did the Victorians celebrate Mother’s Day?

Moving on to Victorian Britain traditionally Mothering Sunday was a day when servants spent  some time with family and their masters encouraged them to return home to celebrate.  At this time, gifts typically included a Mothering Cake called Furmenty. This special celebration cake for Mum was made with wheat, milk, sugar and spices.  The further North you travelled Mum’s might have been treated to more of a pancake than a cake. These Mother’s Day pancakes were called Carling in Scotland. The Mouth watering treats for Mum were lovingly prepared with steeped peas, fried in butter and a dash of salt ‘n’ pepper – scrummy.

Interesting Fact | The England rugby star Will Carling shares his name with a Scottish Mother’s Day speciality pancake

The origins of modern day Mother’s Day

The Mother’s Day we all love today originated in the US and was first celebrated in 1908, when Anna Jarvis, the daughter of the women’s rights campaigner Ann Jarvis held a memorial for her mother in Grafton, West Virginia.  Ann Jarvis founded Mother's Day Work Clubs for Mum’s in America and strived hard to improve their conditions at work. After Ann died her daughter Anna campaigned to make Mother's Day a recognised holiday. In 1914 the modern day Mother’s Day was born and the giving of printed cards has continued to this day.

Interesting Fact | After her Mother died Anna Jarvis pledged to dedicate her life to establish a Mother's Day to honour her, but had no children of her own.

When is Mother’s Day celebrated in the country where you live? 

Mother’s day is now celebrated all over the World, but curiously, not all celebrate with Mum at the same time.  Here’s the dates Mother’s Day is celebrated where you are:

Read the full published article... 

Image by: Clarita, Rome