Now that all the cards have been sent, all the flowers have been delivered and all the messages have been posted, let’s take a closer look at Mother’s Day.
Without a doubt, Mother’s Day is the most important holiday throughout the world, yet in most countries, including the United States, it is not even considered as a National holiday. And why is that, I wonder, since it is the only holiday that can be observed by every single human being, regardless of race or religion.
In the United States, the list of National Holidays include New Year’s Day; Inauguration Day; Martin Luther King, Jr. Day; George Washington’s Birthday (President’s Day); Memorial Day; Independence Day; Labor Day; Columbus Day; Veteran’s Day; Thanksgiving Day and Christmas Day. Without going into detail about holidays in relation to race and religion, it is obvious that all Americans do not observe most of these holidays. For example, there are over four million Chinese Americans who celebrate the new year according to the Lunar Calendar, which fell on February 16 this year, initiating the Year of the Dog. And Columbus Day has become meaningless to many people (except as a day off from work) since almost half the country does not believe he actually “discovered” America.
The only country to recognize Mother’s Day as a national holiday is Mexico, which has designated May 10 for its observance, and, rightly so, it is one of the country’s biggest holidays, celebrated in a most colorful fashion. On the eve of the holiday, children honor their mothers by bestowing usually handmade gifts and thanking them for their efforts in raising them, and for all the sacrifices in doing so. The actual day is celebrated with gusto as churches offer special masses, usually with local town or village bands playing the traditional birthday song, Las Mañanitas, while sons and daughters distribute tamales and atole, the traditional early-morning meal, to all local mothers.
Here in Greece, even though it is not a “declared” national holiday, Mother’s Day (celebrated the same day as the U.S.) is one of the most important days of the year . . . a day which has its roots in Ancient Greece, with honoring the mother as the life-giver. Mother Earth (Gaia), wife of Uranus, was the personification of nature that gives birth to everything, and she was worshipped as the ultimate deity. Her worship then passed to her daughter Rhea, wife and sister of Cronus, who gave birth to several deities in Greek mythology. Rhea was worshipped as the ‘Mother of Gods’ and ancient Greeks used to celebrate their annual spring festival to honor Rhea, the goddess of nature and fertility.
The modern celebration of Mother’s Day was established in the 20th century and comes from the American women’s movement. Ann Maria Reeves Jarvis organized for the first time in 1865 the Mothers Friendships Day movement and meetings called Mothers’ Day Meetings, where mothers exchanged views and experiences. In 1870 Julia Ward Howe organized an event of mothers gathering under the slogan “peace and motherhood” to prevent children from being sent to war.
Today, more than a billion people across the globe take the day as an opportunity to honor their mothers, thanking them for their efforts in giving them life, raising them and being their constant support and well-wisher.
“Giving us life!” Now, what can be more important than the celebration of motherhood?