Why is it "Mother Russia"?

Well, that’s the question in a nutshell…and, when did “she” become a mother? Is it a reflection of how Russia has been ruled by dictators…like an overbearing mother’s relation to her children, I WAG?

I think its a rough translation from Родина (Rodina) - Motherland. Some languages call their home the Fatherland, some call it the Homeland, Russians call it the Motherland.

i know in Latin the word for father is pater, patris (m)…whereas the word for country is patria, patriae, (f) so the more literal translation of patria is something like ‘fatherland’…does anyone know if Russian is also like this?

Neptunian Slug gave the Russian word with the same sort of emotional connotation as patris, to wit, Rodina, from a root meaning family, birth, and a meaning more or less of “Motherland.”

More likely it is an expression of the love the love they feel for the land of their birth, and that has nurtured them.

It is a pretty obvious metaphor of love. To see negative connotations in it suggests, um… issues (whether about mothers or about Russia, I can’t say).

Norway is both fedrelandet “the fatherland” and mor Norge “mother Norway”. These expressions stretch back much further than the politics of the previous century, and I expect the same goes for Russia.

The land out of which you are born and where you were raised would easily be associated with motherhood, if you’re inclined to anthropomorphize.

Also, while in the West it became a common trope to use “mother country” to refer to the preceeding polity from which your more recent state spun off, that does not necessarily apply to longer-extant nations.
While at the hijack: “patria” can be both a noun for “country” and a modifier meaning “of or related to the father”. So “fatherland” does not necessarily imply that the land is the father, but that it is the land OF the fathers; thus you have the Norwegian example where the country is both “fatherland” and “mother” (with no “-land” tag).

So is Sweden, fäderneslandet and Moder Svea.

There is a detailed explanation in the Introduction: Russia as Mother to Mother Russia by Joanna Hubbs.

In part she says:

For centuries, Russia had a predominantly agrarian culture. The land was called Mother, and her physical features - natural or man-made - were also given maternal epithets. Rivers that ran through the immense steppes are still called “little mothers”: Matushka Don, Matushka Dnieper. Most important of all is Matushka Volga, whose sacred nature is celebrated in the first recoded folk song and in a popular ballad as “Our Dear Mother” and “Our Natal Mother.”

There’s also Mother India and Mother Ireland. I’m sure there are others.

Russian also has words that are the equivalent of Fatherland and Motherland.
Otechestvo (from otets, father) seems to have connotations of duty and, well, patriotism (the Great Patriotic War (aka WWII) is Velikaya Otechestvennaya Voina).
Rodina seems to have more warm, atavistic overtones, and is used for emotional appeals:
Rodina-Mat Zovyot! [The Mother-Motherland [sic - it doesn’t sound as redundant in Russian] Calls!]

it’s “mother” (more specifically “mommy”/“dear mom” - “matushka”) because the word “Russia” as well as “Rus” (as in Kievan Rus) is of feminine gender in the Russian language. Saying “father Russia” would sound stupid and “fatherland Russia” more or less ok but not as elegant. Idiomatic expressions need to be aesthetically pleasing and generally make sense within the language’s context to get traction.

I just looked Moder Svea up and found that it is a poetic metaphor coined in the 17th century.

Interestingly, Spanish (which borrows more than a tiny bit from Latin) has the word “patria” to mean just that, the “fatherland”. Except that most Spanish speaking countries speak of the “madre patria” for their homeland. That would be something like the “mother fatherland”. It might have to do with “patria” despite its male roots being a female word (“LA patria”).

The word Россия (Russia) is feminine. Any time you’re going to refer to it, you’re going to use the feminine.