Early cultural beliefs stated that a woman's role was as wife and mother. She was to be the keeper of the household and hearth, and her children were to be morally protected and safeguarded against the cruel realities of a harsh world. Indeed, the normal state of women was expected to focus on household tasks, beauty and fashion, with no thought toward science, industry or politics.
However, political, industrial and technological changes overtook the old world, and women were suddenly aware they could assume additional roles. History records hundreds of progressive contributions made by women in every known industrial field while continuing to fulfill traditional expectations and bearing their children along the way. Mother's Day recognizes the fierce, intelligent women of the world who not only give birth to the future but also nurture it in so many ways.
The early Ancient Greeks had the utmost respect for the mother, and she was honored as the life-giver many centuries before our modern Mother's Day celebrations. They recognized Mother Earth, Gaia, as the ancestral mother of all life and celebrated her daughter, Rhea, as mother of the gods in Greek mythology. The ancient Romans held a spring festival called Hilaria , honoring another mother goddess, Cybele. This was a rowdy, three-day celebration marked by games, masquerades and lavish parades.
In 1600s England, a more modern version of Mother's Day began. It's still celebrated every year on the fourth Sunday of Lent and is called Mothering Sunday. There's a special cake associated with this celebration, the Simnel cake. It's a rich fruit cake with two layers of almond paste and traditional sugar violets for decoration. There are 11 balls of marzipan icing on the top of the Simnel cake to represent the 11 disciples. Judas is not included.
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