The timeless tradition of nearly forgetting Mother’s Day

The second Sunday of May. Or, this year, Sunday 13th May. A day which – much like birthdays and anniversaries – I usually forget until the last dire minute. Cue me rushing through the mall right before it shuts trying to find a gift both thoughtful and needed. A thing which, by the way, doesn’t exist when you’re looking for it.

The history of mother’s day can be traced back to its ancient roots. Spring celebrations in ancient Greece honoured Rhea, the mother of the gods, with offerings of honey-cakes, drinks and flowers. The ancient Romans celebrated their mother of the gods too – Cybele, or Magna Mater, ‘Great Mother.’ They built her a temple in Rome and over several days during the March equinox, the festival of Hilaria was held in her honour. Even the ancient Egyptians held their own annual festival in celebration of the goddess Isis – she being revered as the mother of Pharos and a divine symbol of motherhood.

In a more modern age, mothering Sunday in the UK (the fourth Sunday of Lent) became a day where workers could take time off to visit their mothers; and in the United States a woman named Anna Jarvis is credited with beginning Mother’s Day there from 1908, following the death of her own mother. (Find out more about the history of Mother’s Day at The Legacy Project)

These days, we don’t so much bother with honey cakes and the lighting of the ceremonial fires, but Christchurch City Libraries do have a wealth of material, images and resources to help us celebrate mother’s day the way it should be (with a good book).

We could start with this handy Staff Pickles list, along with some of my top picks:

Cover of Five forget Mother's DayCover of MiracleCover of MothersCover of Mother's Day on Coronation StCover of Mother's and Father's day treats

Here are some photos from Christchurch City Libraries’ digital collection of mothers being mothers in times past and present.

How were many Cantabrians celebrating mother’s day in 1984 you ask? By joining in a nuclear free parade, of course: 

Nuclear free parade, Akaroa, Mothers Day, 1984 from Kete Christchurch. Entry in the 2009 & 2014 Christchurch City Libraries Photo Hunt by Jan Shuttleworth. Licensed under CC BY-NC-SA 3.0 NZ

And you thought that our Babytimes could get crowded:

Mothers and babies gathered outside St. Helen’s Hospital, Sydenham [1909]. File Reference CCL PhotoCD 2, IMG0075
Adorable family standing in front of the United Services Hotel in the square: 

Mother and Daughters in Cathedral Square (early 1940’s). File reference: HW-08-CE-018. From Flickr.

On a final note, it can be observed that in our busy lives we often neglect to make time for ourselves. Could this be any truer than for the busy mother? Enter All Right? who have brought us a fresh new idea in the form of these popular downtime dice, to remind us to take time out for ourselves. Downtime dice can be nabbed (free!) in libraries, but get in quick – they’re going fast! Check out their website for ideas about downtime activities.

Wishing you a Happy Mother’s Day!

Photo Hunt October: Daffodils in Hagley Park, 1944

Daffodils in Hagley Park
Entry in the Christchurch City Libraries 2009 Photo Hunt. Kete Christchurch-HW08-D-009-Daffodils in Hagley Park. CC-BY-NC-SA-3.0 NZ

Kevin and his mum amongst the daffodils in Hagley Park in Spring 1944.

See more images of daffodils from Kete Christchurch.

Christchurch City Libraries has been running an annual Photo Hunt in conjunction with the city’s Heritage Week since 2008.  The 2016 Photo Hunt is running again from 1 – 31 October. During the month of October we will be posting a series of images from earlier Photo Hunts.

Enter the 2016 hunt online or at your local library.

Kete Christchurch is a collection of photographs and stories about Christchurch & Canterbury, past and present. Anyone can join and contribute.

Happy Mother’s Day

Kia ora and Happy Mother’s Day to all the Mums. Here are some Mums of days gone by:

Mothers and babies gathered outside St. Helen’s Hospital, Sydenham CCL PhotoCD 2, IMG0075

The hospital, a wooden building in Durham Street, Sydenham, had been opened about two years earlier. It was a birthing place for the wives of working men. The hospital was, like other hospitals, named St. Helen’s to commemorate the birthplace of the recently deceased Premier, Richard John Seddon (1845-1906).


Proud mothers and their chubby children. Prize- winners in the baby competition, which was a feature of the picnic held at Kowhai [Kowai] Bush, by the combined staffs of the Christchurch City Council. The weekly press, 1 Feb. 1928, p. 37

And some mother photos from our Flickr site:
Mother and daughter Mother and Daughters in Cathedral Square Family Portrait Off to Church Four Generations   The Riley Elf

Four Generations of women

For more Mother pictures, have a look at the Digital NZ set Mums.

Happy Mother’s Day

Kia ora and Happy Mother’s Day to all the Mums. Here are some Mums of days gone by:

Mothers and babies gathered outside St. Helen’s Hospital, Sydenham
The hospital, a wooden building in Durham Street, Sydenham, had been opened about two years earlier. It was a birthing place for the wives of working men. The hospital was, like other hospitals, named St. Helen’s to commemorate the birthplace of the recently deceased Premier, Richard John Seddon (1845-1906).


Proud mothers and their chubby children
Prize-winners in the baby competition, which was a feature of the picnic held at Kowhai [Kowai] Bush, by the combined staffs of the Christchurch City Council.

And some mother photos from our Flickr site:
Mother and Daughter Mother and daughter Mother and Daughters in Cathedral Square Family Portrait Off to Church Four Generations Feeding Time Mum and Eli My Cool Jeans on Mum The Riley Elf Leaving the Farm

Four Generations of women

For more Mother pictures, have a look at the Digital NZ set Mums.