Mother’s Day is an occasion to honor and appreciate the person who perhaps played the most important role in shaping our lives.
However, the modern tradition of celebrating Mother’s Day with gifts and greeting cards is not how it all began. Ancient civilizations and cultures such as those in Egypt, Greece and India have been known to worship the Mother Goddess in various forms for centuries. Ancient Egyptians honored Goddess Isis, considered the Mother of the Pharaohs. The Greeks and Romans celebrated the festival of Magna Mater (Great Mother) in honor of the ancient Goddesses Rhea and Cybele. The celebrations included games and processions where the Goddess’s statue was carried on one’s head around streets, followed by displays of arts and crafts. In India, various symbols are used to represent the feminine aspect of the Supreme. Hindus worship several deities – male and female- but believe that the underlying cosmic force or Almighty is, in fact formless.
Cultures around the world celebrate Mother’s Day at different times and in different ways.
China: Although carnations and cards have grown in popularity in China, Mother’s Day is not the only time the Chinese remember their Mom. Celebrating and honoring one’s Mother is part of the Chinese tradition. Most Chinese names honor the maternal heritage. The first character of Chinese names generally symbolizes Mother.
India: Hindus have been worshipping the spiritual significance of Mother in various forms, incarnations and symbols for ages. Known as Devi (Goddess) or Shakti (Cosmic Power), the feminine aspect of the Divine is revered and worshipped across the country. Several festivals honor the Mother Goddess in India, the most popular of them being Navarathri or Dussehra. In modern times, most of urban India has adopted the American tradition of buying gifts and flowers for Mom on Mother’s Day. However, traditionally, Indians follow the custom of seeking blessings from their Mother (and Father) before embarking on any important task. ‘Mata’ or one’s Mother enjoys a position even higher than that of God in Hindu culture.
Thailand: The people of Thailand revere their Queen, Her Majesty Sirikit Kitiyakara. It is in her honor that Mother’s Day is celebrated on her birthday, August 12 which is a public holiday. Her portraits are displayed and Thailand’s flags are raised in homes and organizations across the country. People either travel to Bangkok or join in celebrations in their own cities.
UK: Mothering Sunday has been popular in UK for centuries and began as a way for families to spend time together and for Mothers to enjoy some time off from their daily chores. The holiday falls during the period of Lent. Children who had been sent away to work in other villages or cities traveled home to spend the day with their Mother. Gifts, flowers and greeting cards have become a part of tradition today.