Many countries around the world celebrate Mother's Day on the second Sunday of May, as a way to honor our mothers and give thanks to them.
While the holiday we know today was only recently established, the age-old tradition of celebrating mothers and motherhood is nothing new. Many ancient societies had customs to honor motherhood that were deeply rooted in their spirituality. The earliest record of this type of celebration is found among the ancient Egyptians, as they hosted an annual festival honoring the goddess Isis, who was believed to be the Mother of the pharaohs. The ancient Romans also celebrated their mother deity, the goddess Cybele, which is closely related to the Greek celebration of the goddess Rhea, the Greek mother of the Gods. These celebrations often included eating sweet cakes and giving flowers to each other.
A later version of the holiday to celebrate Motherhood stemmed from the early Christians in Europe, which fell on the fourth Sunday of Lent. They used this day to honor the church which they were baptized in. This was commonly known as their "Mother Church" and would be decorated with flowers, jewels and other offerings. Around the 1600's, England opened the celebration to include real Mothers, which eventually earned the name of "Mothering Sunday." It was on this day that many would travel to their home towns to visit with their mothers and families. In addition, this one-day reprieve from the fasting and penance of Lent allowed families to enjoy large feasts of which the Mother was the guest of high honor. However, this tradition of Mothering Sunday was not celebrated among the early English settlers when they came to America for reasons such as trying to remain separate from the religious ideals of their homeland and becoming less secular. The American Mother's Day was created centuries later with a very different history.
The beginning of the North American version of Mother's Day began with a woman named Julia Ward Howe, with her Mother's Day Proclamation in 1870. Howe's proclamation emerged from the despair surrounding the death and destruction of the Civil War, and urged mothers to come together and protest the futility of their sons killing the sons of other mothers. In this proclamation she stated, "We women of one country, will be too tender of those of another country, to allow our sons to be trained to injure theirs," in an attempt to promote peace and commemorate those lost in the war. Through her persistence, June 2nd was designated for the mother's celebration, and in 1873, women's groups in 18 American cities celebrated this day together. Howe often funded these gatherings, however, this practice was soon forgotten when she was no longer able to do so. Few cities continued these celebrations for a time, and eventually the holiday failed to hit the mainstream. Though the day was lost, Howe indeed planted the seed that would grow into the Mother's Day we now know.
One of those affected by Howe's actions was Anna M. Jarvis who, in remembrance of her own mother, began a campaign for the creation of an official Mother's Day. In 1908, she petitioned the head of the church where her mother taught Sunday school for over 20 years. They honored her request, and on May 10th of that year the first official Mother's Day celebrations took place at a church in Pennsylvania and West Virginia. The West Virginia event drew over 400 people. Each participant received a white carnation which Anna Jarvis arranged as these were her mothers favorite flowers. The mothers that attended the event received two carnations. Today, many use white carnations to honor deceased Mothers, while red or pink carnations are offered to Mothers who are still alive.
Also in 1908, Elmer Burkett, a U.S. Senator from Nebraska proposed making Mother's Day a national holiday. Although his proposal was unsuccessful, by 1909 forty-six states were already holding Mother's Day celebrations as well as some in Canada and Mexico. Then in 1912, the first state to officially recognize Mother's day was West Virginia, due largely to the persistence of Anna Jarvis who made it her full-time duty to ensure this day was recognized nationally. In 1914, she got her wish when President Woodrow Wilson declared the second Sunday in May as Mother's Day and officially signed it into national observance.
With roots leading back to ancient times and modern adaptations, Mother's Day has become a universal day for celebration of those who gave us life and love - Our Mothers.
Click here to read some great quotes such as:
"A mother is a person who seeing there are only four pieces of pie for five people, promptly announces she never did care for pie. "
"No one in the world can take the place of your mother. Right or wrong, from her viewpoint you are always right. She may scold you for little things, but never for the big ones."
"My mom is a neverending song in my heart of comfort, happiness, and being. I may sometimes forget the words but I always remember the tune."