Eight of March – Day of the Mother or the Woman
In Bulgaria we celebrate in one the Women’s and Mother’s day while in the other countries there are two separated days – The International Women’s day and Mother’s day. It happens that both has completely different roots which somewhere gave the beginning of two holidays while in Bulgaria and in some other countries they combined in one. How and when did this happen?
According to some scholars Mother’s Day came from the Ancient Greek celebrations in honour of the mother during the spring festivities of goddesses Rhea (or Cybele) who was believed to be the Great Mother of Gods, particularly of Zeus. Her cult was celebrated during the so-called Ides of March in Asia Minor. In the Roman religious calendar they celebrate the Matronalia (from Latin “mother”) on 1st of March and the day of Cybele during the Hilaria on 25th of March. Everywhere the day was chosen during the spring, the month of fertility, the main characteristic of motherhood. It is possible that the first Christians honoured Virgin Mary as they linked her with the pagan goddesses but there is no evidence for such holiday. Probably it was difficult for them to relate the holidays with the festivities in honour of the mother because of the theological questions around the virginity of the Saint Mary.
In Recent Times
In 15th century the English celebrate Mothering Sunday, firstly in the beginning of the Lent and, after, in the forth Sunday of it. According to historians in this day the domestic servants were given a day off to visit their families. Consequently, the day became an unofficial day of the family and from there – a Mothering Sunday. In 1908 in United States of America was celebrated the first official Mother’s day thanks to the primary teacher Ann Jarvis who managed to procure its organization in honour of her mother. Before her death Ann’s mother often express her wish for the creation of a day dedicated to all mothers because of their efforts in raising children and taking care of the home cosiness. In 1914 the Mother’s day is officially recognized in England and soon after in Germany, Belgium, Denmark, Finland, Italy, Turkey and Australia. Today, the day is celebrated in many countries on a date which can vary: the second (Belgium, Canada) or last Sunday (France, Morocco) of May, the first Sunday of June (Luxemburg), the forth Sunday of the Lent (England, Ireland). In Bulgaria this day is celebrated together with the International Women’s day which origin is completely different.
The International Women’s Day
The genesis of that day is coming from the struggle of women of equality and the right to vote. The first known “strike” of a woman, looking for her rights, was shown in the Aristophanes play “Lysistrata” written in 411 B. C. In it the main heroine organize a meeting of the women from different Greek towns to persuade them to stop having sex with their husbands until they end the long-lasting war between Athens and Sparta. Lysistrata managed to achieve peace, which shows that the mutual efforts of women can succeed in everything. There will be needed, however, more than two millennia to the woman to have a status equal to this of the man.
Few things are known about the struggle for equality of women in the Middle Ages. In fact the gentle half of the society starts to rise in the time of Industrialization. The world was changed, the people’s life was different, the women were going out of their home, together with their men. They started to work in fabrics, factories and everywhere where they were hired to work as a cheaper workforce. Inevitably this led to dissatisfaction and strikes, including one of the most massive on 8th of March 1857 in New York. Years after this strike the women’s fight for a better working condition was granted with certain victory. In 1910 in Copenhagen was held the first international women’s conference organised by the Socialist International. On the conference was taken the decision to establish an annual International Woman’s Day to reminds the struggle of women for better working condition and gender equality.
The first International Woman’s Day was held on 19th of March 1911 in Germany, Austria, Denmark and Swiss.
In the beginning of the First World War, around 8th of March 1913, the women of the European countries gathered together again but this time to protest against the upcoming war. Their protests will resume in 1917 when the results of the war were visible and more than two million Russian man were killed. The Russian women took to the streets to have “bread and peace”. Four days later, on 23rd of February, the Russian king abdicated, the provisional government allowed the vote of women and the date was designated as the official Women’s Day. With the acceptance of the Gregorian calendar, however, the date was changed again on 8th of March. Since than the International Woman’s Day, celebrated in every country, took another dimension. Four international women’s conferences were held by the patronage of the United Nations (UN). They helped to make from its celebration a moment of reflection. This is the time when we have to think not only for the achieved progress but also to demand changes related to the better conditions for all women worldwide.
In Our Lands
In Bulgaria the day was celebrated for the first time in 1915 but it is officially recognized after 9th of September 1944. At the beginning were made only meetings in fabrics, factories and institutions. On these gatherings the contribution of women in production, culture, science and public life was honoured. After 1960 the celebration of the day took bigger scale and became a holiday not only for the workingwoman but also for the mother, the beloved-one, the teacher. Maybe because in Bulgaria the Mother’s Day failed to spread (it became too commercial in America and the others European countries), the Bulgarian women choose to celebrate the International Women’s Day and Mother’s Day together. So, on that day every Bulgarian gives flower to the most precious women in his life as a sign of gratitude.
Author : Vessela Atanassova