Today, April 22, Earth Day is celebrating its 43rd year as over one billion people in countries around the world help make the world a little “greener.” The very first Earth Day in 1970 led to the creation of the United States Environmental Protection Agency and the passage of the Clean Air, Clean Water, and Endangered Species Acts. Founded by Gaylord Nelson, who then was a U.S. Senator from Wisconsin, Earth Day resulted from his witnessing the massive oil spill in Santa Barbara, California in 1969. Now, from Greece to the USA, volunteers in over 192 countries dedicate their time to support Mother Earth, or as she was known in Greek mythology, Gaia.
But who is Gaia?
Gaia was the Greek goddess of Earth, the “great mother of all,” and the first deity from whom all the other gods were born. She, herself, was born out of Chaos, and with her came the sky, Ouranos. Greeks in Ancient times believed the earth was a woman and the sky was a man because seeds go into the ground and the rain and sun from the sky help them grow. Gaia bore hundreds of children, including Oceanus, Coeus, Crius, Hyperion, Iapetus, Theia, Rhea, Themis, Mnemosyne, Phoebe, Tethys and Cronus. In mythology, she saved Zeus from his father, Cronus, after he began swallowing his children for fear they would dethrone him. With a promise from Zeus that he would free the other children of Earth, Gaia supported him in overthrowing Cronus. After saving his brothers and sisters, Zeus ultimately became king of the gods.
Gaia was usually worshipped out in the open or in caves, and Delphi was considered to be her main area of habitat in very early times. Some say that an oath sworn in the name of Gaia in Ancient Greece was considered the most binding of all. Fruits are also a representation and often associated with the goddess of Earth.
For more on Earth Day, and how you can get involved every year or everyday, visit EarthDay.org.