Origins of Mother’s Day!

Hello everyone and Happy Mother’s Day! I hope today has found your hearts full and enjoying time with people you love!

I had the wonderful opportunity to spend the weekend with my own mother! We were both vending at the Mother’s Day Festival at 3 Oaks Farm! She makes custom memory quilts with client’s old t-shirts and was SO excited to talk to other vendors and event attendees! It was an absolute blast and I always enjoy spending time with her!

Today, I woke up with the question on my mind of where this holiday came from, as I wonder most holidays. So, as usual, sit back and enjoy reading about where this holiday came from!

Before we get into where the modern form of this holiday comes from, let’s talk about the influences that went into deciding how and when this holiday would take place.

Cybele, Rhea, Durga and more!

While much has been lost throughout time about civilizations such as their technological advancements and records to help with the finite details, one thing has been vastly clear as we have made more discoveries about ancient civilizations – spiritual life was, and has remained, a huge part of the human experience!

In the context of the history of Mother’s Day and similar ideas throughout human civilization, there is vast evidence of many festivals that have been held to honor goddesses thought to be mothers or mother figures.

To name a few examples of these festivals, there was The Megalesia to honor the goddess Cybele and her lover Attis, festivals to honor the goddess Rhea who was believed to be the mother of Zeus and other Greek gods in Rome, and Durga-puja which is a festival in India honoring the goddess Durga that is still celebrated today

The Megalesia

The Megalesia was a festival honoring the mother goddess Cybele that would run from April 4th to April 10th. During this festival, the morning would start off with drums and dancing as “the temple Priest/esses brought out a sacred silver image of Kybele riding in a chariot drawn by lions and paraded it through the city” (source). A fir tree would be chopped down and taken to Cybele’s temple. All of this was to grieve the annual loss of her eunuch Son/Lover Attis, a god of vegetation that would die every Winter and return to life in the Spring (source).

Rhea – The Great Mother

Believed to be the Earth herself, Rhea is the wife of Cronus and mother of Zeus, Hades, Poseidon, and the other Greek gods and goddesses.

She was celebrated in several festivals in ancient Rome which included dancing, singing, and playing music until everyone was in a frenzied stupor.

When researching, I also found several accounts where she was honored alongside Cybele in festivals. Specifically, a Great Mother Festival (that was unnamed) wherein both of the goddesses were honored alongside each other.

Durga-puja – Victory Over Mahishasura

Durga is a goddess from India and her festival is still celebrated there today. She is celebrated dur to her victory over Mahishasura, a shape-shifting demon. The festival is a ten day festival wherein the last five hold the most significance. The festival encompasses all aspects of living, life, and celebration including unique decorations, specified visits with family and friends, dancing and celebration with feasting and performing arts and more!

The goddess herself is usually depicted as riding a lion and having multiple arms, all wielding a different weapon for defeating the buffalo demon Mahishasura.

Lions and Mother Goddesses

Something else that was very interesting when researching these festivals is that all three of these mother goddess figures ride or are accompanied by lions.

Lions have been depicted within human culture, legends, and spirituality for tens of thousands of years. Lions are a common symbol in ancient Egypt, Greece, and India to name a few!

As stated on Wikipedia, “The earliest known cave paintings of lions were found in the Chauvet Cave and in Lascaux in France’s Ardèche region and represent some of the earliest paleolithic cave art, dating to between 32,000 and 15,000 years ago” (source). This means that lions have been a part of human culture since the very first time humans laid eyes on a lion. The symbolism mentioned above has been seen consistently in artwork from cultures worldwide.

So, the next time you see a picture or symbol of a lion, or even the creature itself, make sure to take a moment to appreciate what humans have been appreciating for thousands of years!

Mothering Sunday

Speaking of mothers in religious/spiritual contexts, the Christian church had some say in the beginning of this holiday as well!

In Great Britain, during the Middle Ages, a holiday called Mothering Sunday was observed. This holiday honored the “mother church” AKA the church where one is baptized (source).

This day of honor was observed on the fourth Monday of the sacred holiday known as “Lent” wherein people would make it a point to visit their mother church on this day to pay homage to their birth into Christ via baptism as opposed to making a trip to the closest church to where they lived, also known as the “daughter church”(source).

“Mothering Sunday” into “Mother’s Day”

While the idea of honoring the mother is not new, transferring it to our actual mothers for a holiday was. Anna Jarvis was a childless woman whose mother died in 1905. She was grieved and wanted to set out to honor her. Spurred on by the knowledge that the current holidays in the calendar were primarily male-centered and ruled by the patriarchal society structure of the time, Anna was determined to get her holiday put on the calendar.

On May 12, 1907 she held a memorial service for her mother and the idea spread like wildfire! In 1914, acting president Woodrow Wilson made the day a national holiday!

At first, Anna tried to make the wearing of a white carnation the norm but over time the custom adapted to wearing a red or a pink carnation for a still living mother, or a white carnation for a deceased mother (source).

The Modern Holiday

Fast forward from 1907 to 2022 and Mother’s Day is less ritualized but still celebrated world-wide! Spending time with your mother or doing something special either for or on the day is now the norm along with the giving of flowers and gifts.

So, today, I hope you are planning something nice with your mom either today or in the week to come!


As always, thank you for reading. Please be sure to comment, share, and follow in order to receive updates about more interesting information!

Until next time! Stay learning and follow your dreams! One Page At A Time…


Published by E. Lexi Abbott

A free spirit and a wild soul. I am a writer who is seeking the inspiration found in the crannies and nooks of life. My goal is to combine the world in my head with the world around me one page at a time.

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