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Mother's Day – An Ancient Tradition

"There is no velvet so soft as a mother's lap, no rose as lovely as her smile, no path so flowery as that imprinted with her footsteps." (Archibald Thompson)

In Europe in the Middle Ages, Mothering Sunday revolved around the Christian tradition of 'Refreshment Sunday', and the returning of young labourers and apprentices to their homes, but the holiday all but died out by the 19th century. It was revived following the second world war, brought over from the USA where it had become a commercial holiday.

Long before either of these periods, however, ancient peoples recognised the need to honour and celebrate motherhood. These ancient mother's days often revolved around goddesses who personified motherhood.

Gaia was the great Earth Mother of the ancient Greeks, mother of the sea and sky. She is still worshipped today in Neopagan and Wiccan circles, as the being that is the Earth and as the Goddess of creation.

Another celebrated Greek mother goddess was Gaia's daughter, Rhea, mother of the gods. The Romans called her Cybele and held festivities in honour of her from March 22nd-25th. Like Gaia, she represented the great mother Earth, the fertile fields and wild mountains. The celebrations held in her honour were so wild that Cybele's followers were banished from Rome!

Meanwhile, in the Celtic tradition it was Brigid who was the goddess of unity, healing, childbirth, poetry and fire. She was worshipped in the early Spring celebration of Imbolc, which marked the first of the ewes' milk — the sacred motherly nourishment. After the pagan traditions were overtaken by Christianity, Brigid persisted in the form of St. Brigid, patron saint of Ireland, whose saint day is February 1st, the eve of Candlemass and Imbolc.

As these and the hundreds of other worldwide mother Goddesses suggest, the invaluable and  difficult role that mothers hold —Goddesses, in a sense, every one— is well worthy of honouring.

A Wonderful Mother  (Pat O'Reilly)

God made a wonderful mother,
A mother who never grows old;
He made her smile of the sunshine,
And He molded her heart of pure gold;
In her eyes He placed bright shining stars,
In her cheeks, fair roses you see;
God made a wonderful mother,
And He gave that dear mother to me.

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