Mother's Day: The Origin Of Mother's Day
Mother’s Day in America and Mothering Sunday in the UK and Ireland has surprising roots.1 Curious about how the day came about? Read on to find out more.
The earliest history of Mother’s Day originates from time of the Greeks and Romans.1 The ancient Greeks celebrated Rhea, the mother of gods and goddesses, with worship festivals every spring. On the other hand, the Romans celebrated Cybele, a mother goddess, every March during a spring festival called Hilaria as early as 250BC. During the festival that lasted for three days, they made offerings to Cybele and held parades, games, and masquerades.2
The origin of Mothering Sunday
In England, early Christians honored the Virgin Mary during a festival on every every fourth Sunday of Lent, also now known as Mothering Sunday since the 16th century.2
As Christianity grew, the celebration changed to honor their mother church, a church playing a vital role in moulding their Christian journey.1 During this period in England, most people worked far from their homes as domestic servants or as apprentices, and they would get a day off to visit their mother churches. The Christian faithfuls would go back to their mother church for a special service loaded with offerings of gratitude.3
Like many other traditions beginning with a religious purpose, the Mothering Sunday tradition evolved into secular culture where children now celebrate their mothers by giving them gifts and flowers as tokens of love and appreciation.4
During the prayer service, as an honor to the Virgin Mary, children brought flowers and gifts to celebrate their mothers, along with Mothering Cakes, given to each mother.3 Thus, Mothering Sunday evolved into a permanent tradition on the calendar. Although the tradition began to lose popularity by 1935, it revived after World War Two. Americans and Canadians found a new meaning of celebrating Mother’s Day while they were away at war. The British and other Europeans followed suit and celebrated their mothers, too.4 Since then, Mother’s Day means something significant on the UK calendar.
Origin of Mother’s Day
Conceived by Anna Marie Reeves Jarvis, an activist and social worker, she expressed her wish to have a special day to celebrate women, especially mothers.2 Unfortunately, she died before it came to fruition. Later on, her daughter, Anna Jarvis, resolved to make her mother’s wish come true in honor of her mother.2 At that time, there was a widespread negligent attitude toward elderly Americans, and alongside her supporters, they wrote letter campaigns to business people and leaders to declare a national Mother’s Day celebration to appreciate mothers, both living and dead.3 The hard work and determination paid off when President Woodrow announced the second Sunday in May as an official holiday in the US in 1914.3
Anna Jarvis is recognized as the mother of Mother’s Day, because of how hard she worked to bestow honor and appreciation to all mothers.3 Due to the significance of Mother’s Day, some saw the opportunity to make money. Anna, disappointed about the commercialization, tried to reverse the commemoration of the day. She conducted extensive campaigns against people who profited from the Mother’s Day celebration, like charities and florists. She disowned the holiday and spent most of her personal wealth in legal battles. Unfortunately, she died in 1948 an unhappy person.1
Currently, Mother’s Day is celebrated in many countries in the world, besides the USA and UK: India, Italy, Mexico, Australia, etc.2 In the USA, mothers receive gifts and flowers and a day off from household chores and cooking.4 Did you that in the USA, Mother’s Day has the highest sales for flowers and cards?1 Did you also know that most phone calls are made on Mother’s Day, more than any other day in the USA? Chats with moms often cause phone traffic spikes, by as much as 37%.4
Mother’s Day presents an excellent opportunity to set aside a day to celebrate and appreciate the mothers in our lives. What are you planning for Mother’s Day this year? Take time to get gifts and cards to show the mother figures in your lives how much you appreciate their important role in your life.