Thoughts for Mother’s Day

Mother’s Day can be traced back to the Ancient Greeks and Romans who held festivals in honor of the mother goddesses Rhea and Cybele.

The ancient Greeks held an annual spring festival dedicated to honor the maternal goddesses Rhea. The wife of Cronus, Rhea was the mother of many deities of Greek mythology.

Ancient Romans also celebrated a spring festival, called Hilaria dedicated to the mother goddess Cybele. Ceremonies in honor of Cybele began some 250 years before Christ was born. The celebration was held on the Ides of March by making offerings in the temple of Cybele,  this festival lasted for about three days.

Mothering Sunday, from the UK is the most recent celebration, dating back to the 1600’s. This Christian festival was once a major tradition in the United Kingdom and parts of Europe, it fell on the fourth Sunday in Lent, it was a time when people would return to their “mother church”. (Much like homecoming that is celebrated in churches today when people return to their home church for a special service and a meal afterwards).

Mothering Sunday eventually took a more secular route when children would present their mothers with gifts and flowers to show their appreciation. Mothering Sunday eventually faded out but regained new life when it merged into the American born Mother’s Day in the 30’s and 40’s. In World War II servicemen would purchase trinkets to send back home to their Mother’s or wives.

In 1872 Julia Ward Howe (writer of the Battle Hymn of the Republic) suggested in her “Mother’s Peace Day Proclamation” that Mother’s Peace Day be celebrated on the second Sunday in June. This was to be a day that Mother’s would stand united against war and be dedicated to peace.

Around the same time  Ann Reeves Jarvis of West Virginia began holding meetings taught local women how to properly care for their children. These meetings became a unifying force in a region of the country still divided over the Civil War. In 1868 Jarvis organized “Mothers’ Friendship Day,” where mothers gathered with former Union and Confederate soldiers to promote reconciliation.

The efforts of Ann Reeves Jarvis’ daughter Anna Jarvis gave birth to the official Mother’s Day holiday in the 1900s. After her mother’s 1905 death, Anna Jarvis wanted to honor her mother’s good faith efforts as well as all good Mother’s sacrifices. She used financial backing from a Philadelphia store owner named John Wanamaker and proceeded to organize the first Mother’s Day celebration at a church in Grafton, West Virginia. Seeing the success of the first Mother’s Day celebration she set out on a long journey to make the celebration a National Holiday.

By 1912 many States and churches celebrated Mother’s Day. Jarvis finally succeeded in her quest when President Woodrow Wilson signed a measure officially establishing the second Sunday in May as Mother’s Day  in 1914.

Anna Jarvis had envisioned Mother’s Day as a personal day for families where they could gather together and spend time making precious memories. It wasn’t long after Mother’s Day became a national holiday before florists, card companies and other merchants capitalized on its popularity. This infuriated Anna Jarvis, she spent all her personal assets fighting to have Mother’s Day removed as a National Holiday because it had turned into something entirely different from her vision. By the time of her death in 1948, Anna Jarvis was penniless and confined to a sanitarium.


From Goddesses to penniless, motherless widows, Mother’s day has seen great extremes. Mother’s have fought and struggled throughout the years to make this world a better place for their children to grow up in; they are ever persevering the face of adversity, sacrificing in times of want and above all loving in all circumstances.

Celebrate the Mother you love and those who have loved you this Mother’s Day.

Beautiful Mother's Day Box of Assorted Chocolates

Information for this article gathered from History.com and mothersdaycelebration.com and cocoamill.com

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Sweets For Your Sweet

A brief history lesson before we delve into the sweet reason of Chocolate on Valentine’s day…

St. Valentine’s Day began as a liturgical celebration of one or more early Christian saints named Valentinus.  The Catholic Church recognizes at least three different saints named Valentine or Valentinus, all of whom were martyred. One legend contends that Valentine was a priest who served during the third century in Rome. When Emperor Claudius II decided that single men made better soldiers than those with wives and families, he outlawed marriage for young men. Valentine, realizing the injustice of the decree, defied Claudius and continued to perform marriages for young lovers in secret. When Valentine’s actions were discovered, Claudius ordered that he be put to death.

“Love is composed of a single soul inhabiting two bodies.”
– Aristotle

Valentine greetings were popular as far back as the Middle Ages, though written Valentine’s didn’t begin to appear until after 1400. The oldest known valentine still in existence today was a poem written in 1415 by Charles, Duke of Orleans, to his wife while he was imprisoned in the Tower of London following his capture at the Battle of Agincourt. (The greeting is now part of the manuscript collection of the British Library in London, England.)

“Being deeply loved by someone gives you strength, while loving someone deeply gives you courage.”
– Lao Tzu

Our infatuation with chocolate first began 2,000 years ago when it was discovered in Latin America. The Maya and Aztec elites infused cocoa beans with water to form frothy chocolate drinks – the first frappuccinos, if you will – for special occasions and as sacrifices to the gods. The Aztec ruler Montezuma believed that chocolate was an aphrodisiac and routinely drank it before entering his harem, thus increasing chocolate’s popularity and its association with love and romance. As it turns out, he was ahead of his time. Modern-day scientists have linked the chemical phenylethylamine in chocolate to feelings of excitement, attraction and even pleasure.

“Young love is a flame; very pretty, often very hot and fierce, but still only light and flickering. The love of the older and disciplined heart is as coals, deep-burning, unquenchable.”
– Henry Ward Beecher

 Christopher Columbus saw how the Aztecs revered cocoa when he entered the picture in the sixteenth century and immediately took the luxury product back to Queen Isabella of Spain. Chocoholics sprouted up all over Europe, sharing the legend of their new obsession’s alleged mythical powers. At one point in time, chocolate was believed to be so potent that nuns were forbidden from eating it and French doctors used it to treat “broken hearts.”

“Love makes your soul crawl out from its hiding place.
– Zora Neale Hurston”

So whatever your reason is for celebrating Valentine’s Day make sure that your heart is filled with love and your hands are filled with chocolate.

This information was collected from the History Channel and from other sources.

 

Summer Sweets: German Chocolate Cake

Since starting the Summer Sweets Recipe Series I have started getting a lot of requests for my next recipe experiment.  This one is for my husband: German Chocolate Cake.

I will say I was a little hesitant to make this cake, I thought it would be very labor intensive and difficult to make. It is not difficult make, there are however several steps involved in making this cake. It was well worth the time. 

 This German Chocolate cake is very moist with a very rich grown up flavor. The quality of the chocolate used plays a big factor in this cake. I recommend a bittersweet chocolate for a decadent chocolate experience. The caramel coconut icing is just heavy enough to lock in the moisture of the cake, and the sweetness of the icing  intensifies the chocolate flavor while the bittersweet chocolate balances the sweet icing and the richness of this cake. This recipe does make a rather large cake, plan on three layers or a large sheet cake. I hope you enjoy this cake as much as my family has!

German Chocolate Cake

ingredients you will need:

6 oz. Cocoa Mill bittersweet Chocolate (visit www.cocoamill.com for chocolates and information)

1/2 cup water

1 1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract

1 1/2 cups granulated sugar

1/2 cup of brown sugar

1/4 cup of coffee

1 cup buttermilk

4 eggs, separated

2 cups all-purpose flour

1 tsp. baking soda

1/2 tsp. salt

(frosting recipe will follow after cake recipe)

1. Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees F

2. In a double broiler heat the water and chocolate until melted and well blended. remove from heat and set aside to cool.

3. In a large bowl cream together the butter, vanilla, granulated and brown sugar until well blended.

4. Scrap the bowl and add the egg yolks. Add the melted chocolate and the 1/4 cup of coffee until throughly blended.

5. Add the flour, baking soda, and salt, blend again.

6. In a separate bowl beat the egg whites until stiff peaks form. Very gently fold the egg whites into the batter until well blended.

7. Pour the batter into 3 greased 9 inch cake pans. Bake in for about 30 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean.

8. After baking time is up remove the cake from the oven and allow to cool completely before frosting.

Coconut Icing:

ingredients:

1 1/2 cups evaporated milk

5 egg yolks slightly beaten

1 cup brown sugar

1 cup granulated sugar

 2 1/2 tsp. pure vanilla extract

2 sticks of butter

2 cups un-sweetened flaked coconut

(2 cups toasted pecans)*

* if you do not use pecans add 1/4 tsp of salt

1. in a large saucepan over low heat add egg yolks, evaporated milk, white and brown sugar, vanilla, and butter.

2. After the butter melts raise the heat to medium low, stir constantly for ten minutes.

3. Remove from the heat and add the coconut and pecans (or salt).

4. Cool before frosting the cakes.

Enjoy!