Some historians believe that the earliest celebrations of Mother's Day was the ancient spring festival dedicated to mother goddesses. The ancient Greek empire had a spring festival honoring Rhea, wife of Cronus and mother of the gods and goddesses. In Rome there was a Mother's Day-like festival dedicated to the worship of Cybele, also a mother goddess.
Then came the adoption of Mother's Day in the United States, the New York Times of May 10, 1953, reported:
"In spite of the popularity of Cybele, . . . and sporadic occasions honoring mothers during the Middle Ages, it was not until 1914 that the proper combination of sentimentality, idealistic promotion and hard business sense impelled the United States Congress to designate the second Sunday in May as Mother’s Day."
Let's consider though that Mother's Day is a spring celebration. And others around the world celebrate Mother's Day in a distinctive way that involves worship to Mother Nature or Mother Earth. For example, the first rites of Spring are held over Mother's Day weekend by Pagans in New England. It is a Pagan gathering that started in 1979 on Mother's Day weekend and involves pagans, witches, and other participants from all over the world.
I never thought Mother's Day may have it's roots in Paganism, so I looked for more information and here is what I found:
Matronalia seems to be kind of a Mother's Day, Valentine's Day, and anniversary of a marriage, and fertility holiday all rolled into one! Wikipedia describes Matronalia (or Matronales Feriae) as a festival that is similar to Mother's Day. The festival celebrates Juno Lucina, the goddess of childbirth ("Juno who brings children into the light"), and of motherhood (mater is "mother" in Latin) and women in general. In the original Roman calendar traditionally thought to have been established by Romulus, it was the first day of the year. As the first day of March (Martius), the month of Mars, it was also the Feriae Marti.
The date of the festival was associated with the dedication of a temple to Juno Lucina on the Esquiline Hill circa 268 BCE, and possibly also a commemoration of the peace between the Romans and the Sabines.
At home, women received gifts from their husbands and daughters (not sons?), and Roman husbands were expected to offer prayers for their wives. Women were also expected to prepare a meal for the household slaves (who were given the day off work), as Roman men did at the Saturnalia. (Hmmm...seems these Romans may have shown at least a little gender equality then.)
Even if you do not have a relationship with your own mother, you have a relationship with Mother Earth. And if you are Pagan, you most likely have a relationship with the Goddess in some shape or form. And Although Mother's Day was yesterday, you can celebrate Mother Nature and The Goddess Every Day!
Thousands of years later, one of the biggest holidays in the United States is Mother's Day, which is when we take a few moments to say thanks to the women we love -- moms, sisters, grandmothers, etc. If we expand a little on this, we can use Mother's Day as an opportunity to honor all of the women who have touched us, both spiritually and emotionally. The archetype of the mother goddess is one that has been significant in many cultures, so what better day than this to celebrate the power of the sacred feminine? Take a few minutes to celebrate both the goddesses who have touched you, and the women in your family and circle of friends, with a special rite:The Goddess Rite
- This simple ritual can be performed by both men and women,
and is designed to honor the feminine aspects of the universe as well as
our female ancestors. If you have a particular deity you call upon,
feel free to change names or attributes around where needed. Otherwise,
you can use the all-encompassing name of "Goddess" in the rite.
- Decorate your altar with symbols of femininity: cups,
chalices, flowers, lunar objects, fish, and doves or swans. You'll also
need the following items for this ritual:
- A white candle
- An offering of something that is important to you
- A bowl of water
- A handful of small pebbles or stones
- If your tradition calls for you to cast a circle, do so now. Begin by standing in the goddess position, and saying:
I am (your name), and I stand before you,
goddesses of the sky and earth and sea,
I honor you, for your blood runs through my veins,
one woman, standing on the edge of the universe.
Tonight, I make an offering in Your names,
As my thanks for all you have given me.
- Light the candle, and place your offering before it on the
altar. The offering may be something tangible, such as bread or wine or
flowers. It can also be something symbolic, such as a gift of your time
or dedication. Whatever it is, it should be something from your heart.
- Once you have made your offering, it is time to call upon the goddesses by name. Say:
I am (your name), and I stand before you,
Isis, Ishtar, Tiamat, Inanna, Shakti, Cybele.
Mothers of the ancient people,
guardians of those who walked the earth thousands of years ago,
I offer you this as a way of showing my gratitude.
Your strength has flowed within me,
your wisdom has given me knowledge,
your inspiration has given birth to harmony in my soul.
- Now it is time to honor the women who have touched your
life. For each one, place a pebble into the bowl of water. As you do so,
say her name and how she has impacted you. You might say something like
I am (your name), and I stand before you,
to honor the sacred feminine that has touched my heart.
I honor Susan, who gave birth to me and raised me to be strong;
I honor Maggie, my grandmother, whose strength took her to the hospitals of war-torn France;
I honor Cathleen, my aunt, who lost her courageous battle with cancer;
I honor Jennifer, my sister, who has raised three children alone…
- Continue until you have placed a pebble in the water for each of these women. Reserve one pebble for yourself. Finish by saying:
I am (your name), and I honor myself,
for my strength, my creativity, my knowledge, my inspiration,
and for all the other remarkable things that make me a woman.
- Take a few minutes and reflect on the sacred feminine. What
is it about being a woman that gives you joy? If you're a man performing
this ritual, what is it about the women in your life that makes you
love them? Meditate on the feminine energy of the universe for a while,
and when you are ready, end the ritual.
How to say 'Mother' in 126 different languages:
Afrikaans Moeder, Ma Albanian Nënë, Mëmë Arabic Ahm Aragones Mai Asturian Ma Aymara Taica Azeri (Latin Script) Ana Basque Ama Belarusan Matka Bergamasco Màder Bolognese Mèder Bosnian Majka Brazilian Portuguese Mãe Bresciano Madèr Breton Mamm Bulgarian Majka Byelorussian Macii Calabrese Matre, Mamma Caló Bata, Dai Catalan Mare Cebuano Inahan, Nanay Chechen Nana Croatian Mati, Majka Czech Abatyse Danish Mor Dutch Moeder, Moer Dzoratâi Mére English Mother, Mama, Mom Esperanto Patrino, Panjo Estonian Ema Faeroese Móðir Finnish Äiti Flemish Moeder French Mère, Maman Frisian Emo, Emä, Kantaäiti, Äiti Furlan Mari Galician Nai German Mutter Greek Màna Griko Salentino, Mána Hawaiian Makuahine Hindi - Ma, Maji Hungarian Anya, Fu Icelandic Móðir Ilongo Iloy, Nanay, Nay Indonesian Induk, Ibu, Biang, Nyokap Irish Máthair Italian Madre, Mamma Japanese Okaasan, Haha Judeo Spanish Madre Kannada Amma Kurdish Kurmanji Daya Ladino Uma Latin Mater Leonese Mai Ligurian Maire Limburgian Moder, Mojer, Mam Lingala Mama Lithuanian Motina Lombardo Occidentale Madar Lunfardo Vieja Macedonian Majka Malagasy Reny Malay Emak Maltese Omm Mantuan Madar Maori Ewe, Haakui Mapunzugun Ñuke, Ñuque Marathi Aayi Mongolian `eh Mudnés Medra, mama Neapolitan Mamma Norwegian Madre Occitan Maire Old Greek Mytyr Parmigiano Mädra Persian Madr, Maman Piemontese Mare Polish Matka, Mama Portuguese Mãe Punjabi Mai, Mataji, Pabo Quechua Mama Rapanui Matu'a Vahine Reggiano Mèdra Romagnolo Mèder Romanian Mama, Maica Romansh Mamma Russian Mat' Saami Eadni Samoan Tina Sardinian (Limba Sarda Unificada) Mama Sardinian Campidanesu mamai Sardinian Logudoresu Madre, Mamma Serbian Majka Shona Amai Sicilian Matri Slovak Mama, Matka Slovenian Máti Spanish Madre, Mamá, Mami Swahili Mama, Mzazi, Mzaa Swedish Mamma, Mor, Morsa Swiss German Mueter Telegu Amma Triestino Mare Turkish Anne, Ana, Valide Turkmen Eje Ukrainian Mati Urdu Ammee Valencian Mare Venetian Mare Viestano Mamm' Vietnamese me Wallon Mére Welsh Mam Yiddish Muter Zeneize Moæ