Should We Celebrate Mother's Day

It is virtually impossible to forget Mother's Day anymore because a month out out from the second Sunday in May we get bombarded by Mother's Day adverts on the television and radio reminding us to show our appreciation to our mothers by buying cards, flowers and chocolates and a myriad of other things. It's enough to make you throw your hands up in annoyance and boycott the day. Yet because the vast majority of us love and cherish our mother's we try and ignore the commercial hype and show our appreciation by sending flowers and a card, or by taking our mother out to dinner, or by making a special phone call if we live overseas to say how much we love and miss them. But is Mother's Day something Christians should be celebrating? Mother's Day according to some historians can be traced back to pagan practices, although it has gone through a lot of changes and names to arrive at where we are today. Some of these historians say for example that Mother's Day can traced back to celebrations of ancient Greece in honour of Rhea, the mother of the gods.

The modern American holiday of Mother's Day (which was the impetus for our own day) was first celebrated in 1908, when Ann Jarvis held a memorial for her mother in Grafton, West Virginia. Her campaign to make "Mother's Day" a recognized holiday in the United States began in 1905, the year her mother, Ann Reeves Jarvis, died. In 1914 President Woodrow Wilson signed the proclamation creating Mother's Day, the second Sunday in May, as a national holiday to honour mothers. Although Jarvis was successful in founding Mother's Day she soon became resentful of the commercialization and was angry that companies would profit from the holiday. Jarvis became so embittered by what she saw as misinterpretation and exploitation that she protested and even tried to rescind Mother's Day.

From a Christian perspective the Bible doesn't command us to dedicate a special day to Honour mothers, nor is there anything in the Bible telling us that we should not celebrate it. So in deciding whether we should celebrate Mother's Day it comes down to whether we believe such a day glorifies God. Romans 14:5-8 assists us in saying, "One man considers one day more sacred than another; another man considers every day alike. Each one should be fully convinced in his own mind. He who regards one day as special, does so to the Lord. He who eats meat, eats to the Lord, for he gives thanks to God; and he who abstains, does so to the Lord and gives thanks to God. For none of us lives to himself alone and none of us dies to himself alone. If we live, we live to the Lord; and if we die, we die to the Lord. So, whether we live or die, we belong to the Lord."

Therefore if we think by celebrating Mother's day we are honouring God by obeying the command to honour our mother, we can do so with a clear conscience notwithstanding the fact that the day may have pagan roots. Likewise if we decide not to celebrate it because we believe by celebrating it we are partaking in a pagan festival or encouraging materialism then we also can have a clear conscience.

Personally, I think we can redeem Mother's Day by using it first as a regular reminder of how God has blessed us by giving us mother's to love, guide and nurture us. And second, as a wonderful opportunity to talk to non Christians about the fact that the qualities we so appreciate in our mothers (nurture, affection, love, kindness, encouragement, caring, supporting, compassion) are qualities that find their ultimate fulfilment and expression in God. So when we feel the warmth and love of a mother, we are being reminded of how God loves us.

Let's celebrate Mother's Day this year by using it as a bridge to talk about the motherly qualities of God with those who may be missing a mother's love.

". . . How have I longed to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings . . ." (Matthew 23:37)


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