Mothers Day

uMother’s Day is not a celebration that started in the US only a century ago, but a long tradition that has its roots in Ancient Greece, honoring the mother, as the life-giver.

Mother Earth (Gaia), wife of Uranus, was the personification of nature that gives birth to everything and she was worshipped as the ultimate deity. Her worship then passed to her  daughter Rhea, wife and sister of Cronus, who gave birth to several deities in Greek mythology. Rhea was worshipped as the ‘Mother of Gods’ and ancient Greeks used to celebrate their annual spring festival to honor Rhea, the goddess of nature and fertility.

Ancient Romans also celebrated a spring festival by the name of Hilaria in honor of mother goddess Cybele, some 250 years before Christ was born.

Mothers Day is celebrated in over 40 countries, but we don’t all celebrate it on the same day.

Here in the UK, Mothering Sunday (commercially Mother’s Day) is celebrated on the fourth Sunday of Lent. This holiday has its roots in the church and was originally unrelated to the American holiday, The tradition started back in the 16th century when poor children were given a day off work to go home and honour the Virgin Mary at their “mother church”. The children would often pick flowers to give to their mothers and bake special cakes called Mothering Cakes or Simnel Cakes.

As a result of this tradition, most mothers were reunited with their children on this day when young apprentices and young women in service were released by their masters for that weekend. As a result of the influence of the American Mother’s Day, Mothering Sunday transformed into the tradition of showing appreciation to one’s mother.

The USA is where the modern Mother’s Day, as we know it, started. Although many forms of Mother’s day existed before typically with religious roots, Mother’s day is now considered a secular day of celebration, during which mother’s are showered with gifts and cards. The modern day tradition was first conceived at the beginning of the 20th century when a woman called, Ann Reeves Jarvis’s mother died. She wanted to have a national day for people to honour the sacrifices mothers make for their children.

In France, Fête des mères takes place on the last Sunday of May, but is moved to the first Sunday of June if Pentecost falls then. The day of celebration was first declared by Napoleon, who wanted to reward mothers of large families. This tradition was revitalised during the First World War, when mothers of four or five children were given medals. The modern fête des mères was officially founded in 1950. French children will traditionally do chores for their mums, and give them gifts, such as handwritten poems, flowers and cakes. A large, celebratory meal ends this hopefully relaxing, enjoyable day.

In culturally diverse India, a westernised version of Mother’s Day is celebrated on the second Sunday in May, when Indians reflect upon the importance of mothers in their lives and the sacrifices they have made.

However, Hindus in India celebrate the goddess Durga, or Divine Mother, during a 10-day festival called Durga Puja in October. Durga Puja celebrates the triumph of good over evil and is earmarked by gifts given to friends and family, as well as feasts and celebrations. You certainly can’t beat a good over evil victory!

Dia das Mães is incredibly popular in Brazil – in fact it is the second most commercial holiday celebrated (the first being Christmas). Brazil commemorates this special day on the second Sunday in May with special children’s performances and church gatherings, which often culminate in large, multi-generational barbecues.

In Japan Mother’s Day is celebrated on the second Sunday in May and is symbolised by beautiful carnations — which represent the gentle strength of mothers who are revered in Japanese culture. Children draw pictures of their mothers in school and sometimes enter them in art competitions. Like most other countries, Mother’s Day is a day of pampering for mums — children help take over the household chores, have a special family meal, like sushi or eggs, and give their mothers red carnations or roses and cards.

Another country which relies heavily on the giving of carnations and other flowers is Australia, where Mother’s Day is celebrated on the second Sunday in May. Chrysanthemums are also a very popular floral choice, originally due to a marketing gimmick playing on the fact they end with ‘mum’.

In Ethiopia, Mother’s Day is celebrated at the end of the rainy season, as part of the three-day Antrosht festival, dedicated to mums. When the weather clears up and the skies empty of rain, family members come home to celebrate with a large feast. Daughters traditionally bring vegetables, butter, spices and cheese, while the sons bring meat of various types, including lamb or beef.

Peru celebrates Mother’s Day on the second Sunday of May and are complete with gifts, chocolates and joyous family meals. In Peru, children often give their mums handmade items, which are reciprocated (lucky them!).

Peru’s indigenous Andean population, also celebrates the gifts of Mother Earth, or Pachamama, in early August. Pachamama is an ancient mythological goddess beloved by many indigenous Andean populations. Mythology cites Pachamama as the cause of earthquakes and bringer of fertility. Her special worship day is called Martes de Challa.

However you choose to celebrate Mother’s Day, I hope it’s a good day for you x

Pisces, Aquamarines and beautiful birthday jewellery

What does Pisces mean?
The Pisces sign is represented by two Fish tied together, yet swimming in opposite directions. The zodiac symbol represents the duality of the Pisces personality. Pisces people are said to live in two different worlds; reality and fantasy and their zodiac symbol represents exactly that. The symbol of Pisces is associated with religion and the circle of life. The fish encapsulate the chain of human evolution from vertebrae to men.

Pisces dates: February 20 to March 20
Pisces strong points: Tactical, tenacious
Pisces qualities: Coherence, belligerence
Pisces faults: Aggressive
Gems: Sapphire, Aquamarine
Pisces planet: Neptune
Pisces element: Water
Colour: Blue
Metal: Zinc
Corresponding Body Parts: Feet 

The symbol of the fish is derived from the Ichthyocentaurs (a pair of centaurine sea-gods with the upper bodies of men, the lower fore-quarters of horses, and the serpentine tails of fish. Their brows were crowned with a pair of lobster-claw horns. They were called Bythos (Sea-Depths) and Aphros (Sea-Foam).), who helped Aphrodite when she was born from the sea. Most mortals would run a mile when confronted by such beasts!

The astrological symbol shows the two fishes captured by a string, typically by the mouth or the tails. The fish are usually portrayed swimming in opposite directions; this represents the duality within the Piscean nature. They are ruled by the planet Neptune.

According to one Greek myth, Pisces represents the fish, sometimes represented by koi fish, into which Aphrodite (aka Venus) and her son Eros (aka Cupid) transformed in order to escape the monster Typhon, the “father of all monsters,” had been sent by Gaia to attack the gods, which led Pan to warn the others before himself changing into a goat-fish and jumping into the Euphrates. A similar myth, one in which the fish “Pisces” carry Aphrodite and her son out of danger  

Another myth is that an egg fell into the Euphrates river. It was then rolled to the shore by fish. Doves sat on the egg until it hatched, out from which came Aphrodite. As a sign of gratitude towards the fish, Aphrodite put the fish into the night sky. Because of these myths, the Pisces constellation was also known as “Venus et Cupido,”

 Bringing you into slightly more modern times. In the January 1970 edition of the Avengers the supervillain group Zodiac introduced the member “Pisces” whose abilities allowed him to live underwater, which included fins, scales, and gills.

Pisces is a Water signmeaning they are known for their empathy. Similar to Cancer and Scorpio, the Pisces personality is generally more complex than others. As the last sign of the zodiac, Pisces traits are a mixture of the eleven precedent signsHence why the Pisces personality is so complex and layered. 

Positive Traits

Imaginative, These natives are very creative and imaginative, and they can think abstract and come up with out-of-the-box ideas. Their powers of imagination can help them scale great heights

Kind, They are very soft people who will treat others exactly as they want others to treat them.

Compassionate, The people born under this Sign are always in a helpful mood. As they can feel for others, they always sympathise with others and try to help them out.

Intuitive, They are very intuitive. More than rational reasoning, facts and figures, they rely on their intuition while taking a decision.

Sensitive, Affectionate and gentle, they are very sensitive. If there is a setback, it affects them deeply, and they develop extreme feelings regarding the matter.

Selfless, A Fish will go out of his way to help others. However, their selfless deeds may not always be recognised by others.

Negative Traits

(hey we all have our bad points so cut them some slack!)

Escapist, They tend to be escapists. When things go wrong, they will blame it on their bad luck or something else and avoid dealing with it fair and square. 

Idealistic, They are very fussy about how things should be. Since they are very idealistic, sometimes even the best work can seem mediocre to them.

Weak-willed, They get hurt and demoralised very easily. Even with all the talent and resources they possess, their low self-esteem becomes a hindrance in their path.

Over-sensitive, The Fish tend to make a mountain out of a molehill. They take everything to heart and become emotional in the extremes.

Pessimistic, If things don’t turn out as per their expectations, the Fish can lose the motivation to carry on. They tend to look at the negative side more than the positive side of things

Lazy, The Fish can be very lazy about things that don’t matter to them. Their enthusiasm and energy levels last only for a short time

So there you go, Pisceans in a nutshell. So if you are struggling to find her the perfect gift whether it be for a christening or birthday, do have a look and see if you can find then a present they will cherish. x

Valentine’s Day – how did it all start?

Have you ever wondered where the tradition of giving Valentine’s Day gifts to a loved one came from?

Valentine’s Day is a time to celebrate romance and love, and truth be told it maybe a bit too commercial nowadays. But the origins of this festival are actually dark, bloody and a bit muddled and vague, and a mixture of pagan ritual and Christian tradition, rather like Christmas.

The ancient Romans may be responsible for the name of our modern day of love. Emperor Claudius II executed two men,  both named Valentine, on February 14th of different years in the 3rd century A.D. Their martyrdom was honoured by the Catholic Church with the celebration of St. Valentine’s Day.

It’s said that Valentine was a priest who served during the 3rd century in Rome, And when emperor Claudius II announced that single men made better soldiers than those with families and wives, he outlawed marriage for young soldiers. Valentine went against this injustice being done to young men and started performing secret marriages for young lovers. When the emperor found out about Valentine’s actions, he ordered that the saint be put to death, on February 14 in the year 270. The other tale suggests that the saint may have been killed while helping the Christians escape harsh Roman prisons, where they were tortured.

Gradually, St Valentine became so popular that couples all across the world started celebrating Valentine’s Day as the day of love. Although still no mention of gifts of jewellery and choccies!

No one has pinpointed the exact origin of this day, however the ancient Romans are again a good place to start.

It is linked to the pagan festival of Lupercalia, which was celebrated on February 15 by young Romans centuries before Christ. The celebration was held in honour of the goddess Februata Juno, and concerned all young people of marriageable age. The names or tokens representing all the young girls in the district were placed in a love urn and the young lads each drew a token and the couples paired off for the duration of the festival, or longer if the match was right. This was a kind of mating lottery game. During the Roman occupation of Britain, the idea was brought to this country and adopted by the ancient Britons. When people were converted to Christianity the pagan and Christian festivals were merged; the festival of Lupercalia was put back a day and celebrated on St. Valentine’s day, February 14.

Later, Pope Gelasius I muddled things in the 5th century by combining St. Valentine’s Day with Lupercalia to expel the pagan rituals. But the festival was more of a theatrical interpretation of what it had once been. It was a little more than a drunken revel, but the Christians put clothes back on it. That didn’t stop it from being a day of fertility and love.

As the years went on, the holiday grew sweeter. Chaucer and Shakespeare romanticized it in their work, and it gained popularity throughout Britain and the rest of Europe. Handmade paper cards became the tokens-du-jour in the Middle Ages.

It is believed that the first ever Valentine’s Day card was originated in France when Charles, the Duke of Orleans, sent love letters to his wife from the prison in 1415. And the French village called “Valentine” turns into the epicentre of romance between 12th and 14th February. One can see the beautiful yards, trees, and homes decorated with love cards, roses, and proposals for marriage flake. It probably is the most beautiful Valentine’s Day traditions in the world.

Eventually, the tradition made its way to the New World. The industrial revolution ushered in factory-made cards in the 19th century. And in 1913, Hallmark Cards of Kansas City, Mo., began mass producing valentines. February has not been the same since.

Did you know that the English were the inventors of the heart-shaped chocolate box? In the 19th century, John Cadbury, Britain’s oldest and most famous chocolate manufacturer, wanted to boost chocolate sales between Christmas and Easter. So he invented a heart-shaped choccy box. It soon became a hit, and has since been copied by chocolatiers everywhere.

Today in Italy, people gift each other Baci Perugina, a chocolate-covered hazelnut wrapped in a romantic quote. Now these are my all time favourite choccies and should not just be for Valentine’s Gifts in my humble opinion.

There are many other traditions and superstitions associated with romance activities on Valentine’s day including:

  • the first man an unmarried woman saw on 14th February would be her future husband;
  • if the names of all a girl’s suitors were written on paper and wrapped in clay and the clay put into water, the piece that rose to the surface first would contain the name of her husband-to-be.
  • if a woman saw a robin flying overhead on Valentine’s Day, it meant she would marry a sailor. If she saw a sparrow, she would marry a poor man and be very happy. If she saw a goldfinch, she would marry a rich person.
  • In the Middle Ages, young men and women drew names from a bowl to see who their valentines would be. They would wear these names on their sleeves for one week.
  • In Wales wooden love spoons were carved and given as gifts on February 14th. Hearts, keys and keyholes were favourite decorations on the spoons. The decoration meant, “You unlock my heart!”

And so the celebration of Valentine’s Day goes on, in many varied ways. Many will break the bank buying jewellery and flowers for their loved one. A few may still be spending this day like the ancient Romans, but lets draw a polite veil over that! No matter how big or small your romantic gesture is I hope it is from your heart and is appreciated x