For many of us, there’s no greater support than what we receive from our Mother, the person who gave birth to us, or who has treated us as if she did. From the time spent with us in fun childhood games and endless snack preparation to sticking by us as moody teenagers and being the occasional shoulder to cry on – they’ve always had our backs. This month, Mother’s Day gives us the chance to say thank you for everything they have done for us.
The origins of Mother’s Day and commemorating motherhood is a concept that dates back to the Ancient Greeks. In their spring festival, they celebrated the goddess Rhea, considered the Mother of the Gods. Rhea was closely associated with another mother goddess, Cybele, whom the Romans honoured.
Since at least the 16th century, Mother’s Day has appeared in the Christian calendar and is now celebrated in over 152 countries worldwide. Originally it wasn’t a celebration of motherhood, but a time during Lent when people returned to their mother church – the main church – for a special service. This is why Mother’s Day falls annually on the fourth Sunday of Lent in many countries.
Flowers have often been the go-to gift on Mother’s Day and this tradition came from families reuniting at this Church service. Children would pick flowers on route to church and gift bouquets to their mothers. In Medieval times, apprentices and servants would be given the day off to return home. A special cake called a Simmel cake would be taken home. Made from a rich fruit mixture it was layered with almond paste and decorated with 11 marzipan balls to represent the apostles of Jesus – minus Judas Iscariot. Mother’s Day celebrations declined in popularity in the 1900s but was rejuvenated by the efforts of an American woman named Anna Jarvis in the 20th Century. Jarvis’s lobbying of President Woodrow Wilson resulted in Mother’s Day becoming an official American holiday in 1914. New Zealand follows the American tradition celebrating Mother’s Day in May.
These days, it’s less about Simnel cakes and more about sentiments. It is a chance to spoil your mum with a gift to show her how important she is to you. Retailers of flowers, jewellery; (sales of jewellery increase over 100% in the two weeks leading up to Mother’s Day!) health and beauty products all enjoy a boom in sales, but it doesn’t have to break the bank. There are some great ideas that won’t cost any money at all. Find me a mother who wouldn’t appreciate their cash being washed or a day where the kids don’t argue!
Don’t lose sight of what the day represents, a chance to honour that special woman or women in your life who always have your back. Society dictates today that the very concept of celebrating mother’s can be fraught with minefields. But the unconditionally loving mum in your life, wants nothing in return other than a strong bond with you and to not be forgotten. She may not be perfect, but she would fight to the death for you.