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In the Orthodox tradition, mothers are honored on the Great Feast of the Presentation or Meeting of Our Lord in the Temple, celebrated on February 2 (check out the separate page we have created for this Great Feast). However, in the secular tradition, and especially in the United States, Mother’s Day is celebrated in May, and many Sunday Schools prepare a special project honoring mothers for that day. We have designed a printable packet with activities for the occasion, focusing on the greatest Mother of all: the Theotokos.
Our printables contain material for an icon craft of the Theotokos surrounded with flowers, and templates that can be used to make a Mother’s Day card. We also offer some ideas on how to use this craft to do a small class presentation.
While working on the project, the teacher can discuss the basic Orthodox Theotokos facts that follow.
BASIC ORTHODOX THEOTOKOS FACTS
- Our God, out of true love, decided to become a man like us, to help us
get close to Him and save us from sin and death.
- He chose the humblest, purest and holiest person in the whole humankind to become His mother.
- She is Maria, the Theotokos (the Mother of God), also called Panagia (the Most Holy).
- Even though Maria, as all human beings, had the inclination to sin, by God’s Grace, She never committed even the slightest sin, neither in deed nor in thought. She prayed constantly and loved God so much that she always submitted Her will to His.
- The Theotokos loves the whole world and listens to our prayers. She prays to our Lord for us and asks Him to help and protect us. She is the one closest to God, so Christ, as Her Son and Her God, always accepts Her prayers.
- The Theotokos is usually depicted holding the Christ Child. The icon that the crafts are based on is called “Odigitria” or “Directress”. With Her right hand, the Theotokos is motioning towards Christ, directing the viewer’s gaze to Him.
- In Her icons the Theotokos is wearing blue underneath and red on top. The blue garment signifies that She was born a human being, and the red garment that She is covered in Divine Grace. The golden tresses on the red garment signify the multitude of gifts She has received by God’s Grace. On Her garment there are also three stars, one on each shoulder and one on her forehead. They signify Panagia’s ever-virginity – before, during, and after the birth of Christ.
- Virginity refers not only to Panagia’s bodily chastity, but also to the purity of Her heart and soul.
- Around Her head there is a halo to depict Her holiness. The halo also signifies the light and energy of God.
- Next to Her, we see the letters MP ΘΥ. They come from the Greek words “ΜΗΤΗΡ ΘΕΟΥ”, which mean “Mother of God”.
- There is also a halo around the head of Christ, Who is Himself the Light. On Christ’s halo we can see the Greek words, Ο ΩΝ, which mean “He Who Is”.
- We should always honor and love our Theotokos.
THEOTOKOS CRAFT DIRECTIONS
On a yellow or golden piece of poster board, glue the Theotokos’ halo.
Glue the Theotokos on top.
Glue the red dress in place.
Glue the stars on the
Glue baby Christ in the Theotokos’ hands.
Glue flowers all around the icon. You can print and cut out the flowers provided, or use stickers or any other flower craft.
THEOTOKOS MOTHER’S DAY CARDS
Print out the templates provided in the printables. You can use premium printer paper or card stock for sturdiness. Fold in half to make a Theotokos Mother’s Day card.
In our youngest classes, we plan a short presentation for this special day. At the end of our Sunday School lesson, the children stand in line in front of the congregation showing their crafts, and say the lines that follow. Depending on the children’s age, we divide the lines among them. If there aren’t that many children, or they are too young, the teacher helps say the lines.
Today we celebrate all mothers. We are happy to present what we have been learning about the greatest Mother of all: the Theotokos, the Mother of our Risen Lord, Jesus Christ.
(We add “Risen” because Mother’s Day falls within the Pascha period.)
(Lines are divided among the children – all the children say the last line together.)
Our God became a man like us.
He chose the holiest person to be His mother.
She is the Ever-Virgin Mary, the Mother of our God.
She is the Theotokos, our Panagitsa.
This is Her icon with baby Christ.
It is called “Directress”/”Odigitria”.
She is wearing red and blue.
(show red and blue)
She has three stars on Her.
(show the stars)
Around Her head there is a halo, to show that She is holy.
(show the Theotokos’ halo)
Panagitsa loves the whole world. She prays to Jesus for us.
(All together) We love our Panagitsa!
Focus Unit on the Theotokos – by the OCA Department of Religious Education.
Icons of the Mother of God – from a Reader’s Guide to Orthodox Icons.