The custom of honouring mothers began thousands of years ago. Myths were created by people as they began to weave wonderful stories about gods and goddesses who moved the sun across the sky and twinkled the stars at night. These stories were added to year after year.
Some of the first myths were told by the ancient people of Phrygia in Asia Minor. They believed that the most important goddess was Cybele, the daughter of Heaven and Earth, and she was considered to be the mother of all the gods. Once a year the people of Phrygia held a festival to honour her. This may have been the first celebration to honour a mother.
The Greek people also had a powerful goddess who was the mother of all the gods, and she was called Rhea.
Likewise, the Romans had a mother of all the gods, and she was Magna Mater, or Great Mother. A temple on the Palatine Hill in Rome was built for her. Each year on March 15, there was a three-day celebration to honour her, and it was called the Festival of Hilaria. Gifts were brought to the temple to please this powerful mother-goddess.
With the coming of Christianity, a celebration was held to honour the Mother Church. On the fourth Sunday in Lent, people brought gifts to the church where they had been baptized.
During the Middle Ages another kind of celebration began. Since many children had to leave home to earn money, and they were only allowed one holiday a year, it was on the fourth Sunday in Lent that the children went home to see their mothers. This was called a-mothering, and thus the custom of Mothering Sunday was started.