You’ve booked your table at the Edge Social Grille and Lounge on the lobby level of the BEST WESTERN PLUS Chateau Granville, for a special Mother’s Day dinner. You’ve bought her flowers, a card, and you’ve added your own sentiment to the card. Now as you make your way to downtown for this special occasion, you take the time to wonder “When did this special day for mothers begin?”
The celebration of Motherhood has taken on much different form over the ages. Early historical records of a celebration of a Mother deity can be found among the ancient Egyptians, who held an annual festival to honor the goddess Isis; regarded as the Mother of the pharaohs.
The ancient Greeks celebrated Rhea as the mother of the Gods. In Rome and Asia Minor, Cybele was the major Mother deity most similar to Rhea. Other societies worshipped similar deities. In many aspects, this Mother goddess was celebrated similarly across cultures.
The Roman celebration of Magna Mater fell between March 15 and March 22, around the same time as the Greek festival in honor of Rhea. Games were held in honor of the Mother of the gods. Also customary was a parade through the streets with a statue of the goddess carried at the head, followed by a display of elaborate arts and crafts.
In Europe, a holiday to honor Motherhood was held on the fourth Sunday Lent (the 40 days of fasting preceding Easter Sunday). Early Christians initially used the day to honor the church in which they were baptized, which they knew as their “Mother Church.”
In the 1600’s a clerical decree in England broadened the celebration to include real Mothers, referring to the day as Mothering Day. Mothering Day became a holiday for the working classes of England. During this Lenten Sunday, workers were allowed to travel to their home towns to visit their families. Mothering Day provided a one-day reprieve from the fasting and penance of Lent, so that families across England could enjoy a family feast. Mother was the guest of honor.
When the English settlers came to America, they discontinued the tradition of Mothering Day. While the British holiday would live on, the American Mother’s Day would be invented—with an entirely new history—centuries later. Fleeing England to practice a more conservative Christianity without being persecuted, the pilgrims ignored the more secular holidays, focusing instead on a no-frills devotion to God. Holidays such as Christmas and Easter were somber occasions for the pilgrims, usually taking place in a Church that was stripped of all extraneous ornamentation.
The first North American Mother’s Day was conceptualized with Julia Ward Howe’s Mother’s Day Proclamation in 1870. Despite having penned The Battle Hymn of the Republic 12 years earlier, Howe had become so distraught by the death and carnage of the Civil War that she called on Mother’s to come together and protest the futility of their Sons killing the Sons of other Mothers. She called for an international Mother’s Day celebrating peace and motherhood. With her protest Howe had planted the seed that would blossom into what we know as Mother’s Day today.
If you have a moment, please share your favourite Mother’s Day story with other readers of the BEST WESTERN PLUS Chateau Granville blog.