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The Hijacking Of Mother's Day - From Gods to Marketing

When I was a kid, which was a very long time ago as friends, relations and others would point out, it was referred to as mothering Sunday. It wasn't that big ideal, not like Christmas. I would usually go out into the fields and pick some spring flowers as a gift. Seems to be a bit different these days.

Mother's Day, as it is now known, is one of those celebrations that has a history of being hijacked to suit another purpose. Like Christmas or Easter, both of which are pagan festivals hijacked by the Christian Church.

One of the earliest mentions of something resembling mother's day can be found among the ancient Egyptians, who had an annual festival honoring the goddess Isis who was believed to be the mother of the pharaohs.

Shuffling on down the time line we come to the Greeks who honored their major Mother Deity Rhea, as the Mother of the Gods. Celebrations would include eating honey cakes and sharing flowers in the morning. Other representations in other societies of the time included Gaia the Earth goddess and Meter Oreie the Mountain Mother. Mother Goddesses were revered across many cultures.

Then we have the Romans who, apart from using the Isis festival to mark the beginning of winter and an important battle, celebrated the Phrygian goddess Cybele or as she was also known Magna Mater (Great Mother).

The Romans and the Greeks celebrated Magna Mater around the same time between March 15 and March 22. Celebrations included processions through the streets and a display of elaborate arts and crafts.

All of these festivals had one thing in common - the celebration of the mother energy.

With the spread of Christianity in Europe can the first hijacking.

Early Christians would use the fourth Sunday in lent to not honor the Mother energy but the 'Mother' Church itself.

Offerings of jewels and flowers were made to the Church itself which of course was run by men!

In the 1600's the Church broadened the celebration to include actual mothers and called the day 'Mothering Day'

The major benefit of this was that working class people were able to travel back to their home towns to be with their mothers and families. Mothers were guests of honor at the family feast and, harking back to the Greeks and Romans, were presented with flowers and cakes.

In North America, the Puritans had little time for frivolous celebrations so Mothers Day was abandoned. However in 1870 Mother's Day was once again hijacked. This time by Julia Ward Howe, (who wrote 'The Battle Hymn Of The Republic'). She was so disturbed by the slaughter of the Civil War she proposed an international Mothers Day celebrating peace and motherhood and bringing together all the mothers who had suffered great losses to the stupidity of war.

She didn't actually succeed directly, but with the effort of many women and the YMCA Mother's Day was signed into national observance with the second Sunday in May as the day.

The US concept of Mother's Day has now been exported to over 70 countries.

Here's where the next hijack took place. It started with the florists who realized that they could exploit the day to sell flowers and although some of the festivals originators fought against it, commercialization went rampant. And so here we are at the present-day where it is just another public occasion to sell, sell, sell. But still, whereas Christmas and Easter have lost their meaning in commercialization at least Mother's Day still has at its heart Mothers. Bit hard to bury that.

You don't have to join in the marketing orgy, just tell her you love her.