When I was first asked to give a talk on mothers, since it would be mother’s day. I started wondering how Mother’s Day came to be. I was surprised to discover that Mother’s Day has a history longer than Christianity! Ancients celebrated Isis (Mother of the Pharaohs), Rhea (Greek Mother of the Gods), and Cybele (The Great Mother). The worship of these ancient goddesses is similar to the reverence we show to Mary, Jesus’ mother as these Mother Goddesses are often depicted with a baby in arms.
A later tradition that emerged in Europe was a celebration of the Mother Church. People would travel to their home town and decorate the church with flowers and jewels. In our church, we do something similar when we clean the chapel, which gives us a chance to show our gratitude and appreciation.
In the 1600s in the UK, this evolved to include a day off for those in service (e.g. maids and butlers) to go home on this day and also enjoy a family feast in the middle of Lent in which they honored their own mother with a cake. This holiday was known as Mothering Day. When the Puritans colonized America, they dropped this tradition.
However, after the American Civil War, Mother’s Day was instituted in the US as a day of peace and protesting war because of the sacrifices mothers had to bear whose sons had died in the war. In 1908, mothers began to be recognized with carnations: white for deceased mothers, pink or red for the rest. After WWI, France, who had adopted Mother’s Day from the US, added a twist by encouraging repopulation. Mothers were given an award based on how many children they had, a gold medal and straightjacket to those with 8 or more children.
Over 70 countries celebrate Mother’s Day now. In South Korea it’s Parents Day. In Armenia it’s Mother’s Day and Beauty Day. Arab countries celebrate it at the beginning of spring. In Yugoslavia and Serbia Mothers Day is part of a 3 day celebration before Christmas. The first day is Children’s Day, and the children are tied up until they promise to behave well. The next day is Mother’s Day, and the mother is tied up until she gives them treats. The third day is Fathers Day, and he’s tied up until he promises a lavish Christmas.
While thinking about the subject of Mothers, I found a few stories involving devoted loving mothers that did what they could to help or save they’re children.
First, one of my favorite stories that I’m sure a lot of you are familiar with is Harry Potter, there are a couple of strong lessons on the love of a mother hidden in there. The ultra short summary of the series is this: bad guy goes on a rampage of killing people he considers unclean, bad guy targets a specific baby due to a prophecy he heard, mother gives life to save baby, baby survives and goes on to give bad guy a series of bad days.
In Harry’s case, his mother’s love left a powerful shield on him such that the bad guy could not touch or directly harm him. Also, his mother’s love protected him while he called his aunt’s house his home. Now, we don’t live in a realm of magic, but our mother’s love can still protect us from the evils of the world.
One example from the scriptures that came to mind is a classic story out of Egypt. The king at the time had gotten the idea that the next generation of slaves were going to revolt and cause trouble in his kingdom. His plan was the same plan that had been used through the ages; go kill all the boy children. Word of this order trickled down to a young family who had just had a baby boy. This young mother loved her new baby boy and couldn’t stand the idea of killing him. Everybody at this time knew where the royal family bathed in the Nile. Therefore, the mother hatched a plan where she floated her son in a basket into the royal bathing area while the queen was bathing.
If you haven’t figured it out by now, this is the story of Moses and we all know where his story went from...
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