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A TRIBUTE TO ALL MOTHERS BECAUSE OF MY OWN WHOSE ALL EMBRACING LOVE REACHED OUT TO THE HOMELESS AND UNPROTECTED OF THE WORLDANIMALS AS WELL AS THE CHILDREN OF MEN.
S. T. R. Worthington, Mass.
The arrival of this newcomer, Mothers' Day, in the calendar of our national festivals is significant. That a day so rich in sentiment, so tender in its meaning, should be officially adopted in a country which scoffs at sentiment and prides itself on its veneer of practicality is a hopeful sign. Like the divining rod of old usage it reveals underneath the crust of commercialism a perennial spring of idealism.
Although the formal designation of a specific day as Mothers' Day was but recently made in this country, we find in turning the pages of history that the idea rests, like so many of our customs, upon an ancient foundation. It strikes deep roots into universal truth and emotion. Mother-love antedates the Christian religion. Mother-worship, with its own rites and ceremonies, reaches back into pagan times.
Our earliest record of formal mother-worship is in the stories of the ceremonies by which Cybele, or Rhea,
The Great Mother of the Gods,” was worshiped in Asia Minor. In her worship it was the power and majesty of motherhood rather than its tender maternal spirit that the wild dances and wilder music celebrated. Cybele was represented as traversing the mountains in a chariot drawn by lions. The lion, the oak and the pine were sacred to her. The worship of this superlative “Mother of Gods”
was introduced through Greece into Rome about two hundred and fifty years before Christ. There, it was known as the festival of Hilaria and was held on the Ides of March when the people made offerings in the temple. These were, of course, confiscated by the priests but they served their purpose of elevating motherhood into something of its rightful dignity.
With the advent of Christianity, the festival, still keeping some of its old forms, was informed with a new spirit and transfigured. The old celebration with pagan rites in honor of the “ Mother of the Gods on the Ides of March, grew into a celebration in honor of the " Mother Church.” It became the custom on MidLent Sunday, the fourth Sunday in Lent, for the faithful to visit the church in which they were baptized and brought up,- bearing gifts for the altar.
Just when and how this festival of worship for the “Mother Church” gave rise to the observance of
Mothering Sunday” is uncertain. It is sure, however, that a long time ago when young men and maidens were bound out as apprentices and servants, Mid-Lent Sunday was set apart for them to visit their parents. The following quaint account of this festival is taken from Chamber's Book of Days:
“The harshness and general painfulness of life in old times must have been much relieved by certain simple and affectionate customs which modern people have learned to dispense with. Amongst these was a practice of going to see parents, and especially the female one, on the mid Sunday of Lent, taking for them some little present, such as a cake or a trinket. A