-and all the other weird Days of our lives
Sunday is Mother’s Day, one of the major non-religious celebration days of the year right up there with Valentines and the day after the Income Tax Filing deadline.
It’s important because so many of us have mothers, and celebrating them reaches right back to Ancient times when the Greeks held an annual spring festival dedicated to maternal goddesses. The Greeks used the occasion to honor Rhea, wife of Cronus and the mother of many deities of Greek mythology. Could this be the meaning of the term God Mother? Does that make Zeus the God Father?
Even those late arrivals, the Romans, not to be upstaged by the Greeks celebrated a spring festival, called Hilaria dedicated to Cybele, (pronounced sibbilee) a mother goddess (bet that was a hilarious time) The celebration began some 250 years before Jesus was born. Held on the Ides of March it lasted for three days and included parades, games and masquerades. The celebrations were notorious enough that followers of Cybele were banished from Rome (the ultimate toga party?). And no, there is no truth to the rumour that Julius Caeser succumbed due to too much hilarity at a wild Cybele party!
Early Christians held a sort of Mother’s Day on the fourth Sunday of Lent in honor of the Virgin Mary, the Mother of Jesus. In England the holiday was expanded to include all mothers and became known as Mothering Sunday. After a prayer service in church to honor Virgin Mary, children brought gifts and flowers to pay tribute to their own mothers. Servants, apprentices and other employees staying away from their homes were encouraged by their employers to visit their mothers and honor them. Traditionally children brought with them gifts and a special fruitcake or fruit-filled pastry called a simnel (Check out Fruitcake throwing day).
Mothering Sunday died out almost completely by the 19th century. However, thanks to Anna Jarvis, who wanted to honour her mother began advocating for a national holiday celebrating Mothers. With typical male hubris (nothing politically correct here) the US Congress rejected the proposal saying if they did that, they’d have to declare Mother In-Law Day as well. (Henny Youngman they weren’t). Not to be deterred, Jarvis managed to get all the states celebrating it anyway by 1911. By the 1920’s Hallmark and others were making cards, flowers and chocolates and promoting them as gifts for Mom. Ironically Jarvis, who was never a mother, became appalled by the commercializing of the day, tried vigorously to stop it, ending up being arrested for disturbing the peace. She’s long gone, but Mother’s Day is big news the world over.
But it’s not the only “Day” celebration. In fact there are more “Days” than days in the year, which will leave anyone in a daze trying to figure it all out. Here are only a few:
Fruitcake Toss Day January 2. Someone who loves this stuff as much as I do says throw away the old fruitcake after Christmas is done. Fun for the whole family, trek into a field armed with pieces of the confection and see how far you can throw it. Note: it is very dense and can cause serious harm to participants so wear a helmet.
National Nothing Day: January 16th, is …. for nothing. It’s an un-event so don’t promote, talk about, or even celebrate it, unless you have memories of “the Nothing” from Never Ending Story, it’s really nothing to worry about! Hazard warning: Celebrating this day at work might result in difficulties with certain unsympathetic supervisors!
Measure Your Feet Day: January 23 (must be a lot of people with not much to do after New Years) it’s a day to see if you measure up, or down, or in length. Size does matter after all. Whether you’re full of soul, or just a heel, celebrte if you feel downtrodden.
Kazoo Day: In keeping with those who want to blow their own horns but don’t know how, we present the Kazoo. Alabama Vest of Macon Georgia made the first Kazoo in the 1840’s. Actually, he conceived the Kazoo, and had Thaddeus Von Clegg, a German clockmaster make it to his specifications (don’t you feel erudite (smarter) already? Kazoos were almost overcome by the vuvuzella (a rude obnoxious instrument of torture for normal humans by soccer fans) prominent during the World Cup. So celebrate the Kazoo with everything you’ve got. Just don’t blow it!
Happy your day Mom!