History of Mother’s Day

History of Mother’s Day

There are many theories as to the history of Mother’s Day. Some historians believe that it began as a pagan holiday celebrated in Greece, while others believe it started as a way to recognize the Virgin Mary and was celebrated in conjunction with Lent.  While these may have been a kind of Mother’s Day, they are not what we now think of when they consider this occasion.

In fact, most people don’t know the origins of Mother’s Day or how long it has been celebrated in the United States.  Since very few people are left that were living when Mother’s Day began, we just reason that the occasion has always been celebrated. This is untrue, however, so it’s time to set the record straight.

Mother’s Day in the US was first suggested as a holiday in 1872 by the woman who wrote the words for “The Battle Hymn of the Republic”, Julia Ward Howe.  She was so adamant that there needed to be a holiday to honor mothers that she held annual Mother’s Day meetings in Boston each year.

Anna Jarvis picked up the Mother’s Day baton in 1907 and began trying to get Mother’s Day added as a national holiday.  The most she managed was to talk her mother’s church in Grafton, West Virginia into celebrating the day on the second Sunday of May.  The following year, the City of Philadelphia, known for Brotherly Love, began recognizing motherly love by celebrating the holiday.

For the next two years, Ms. Jarvis and her supporters tried to convince ministers, businessmen, and politicians that there should be a national holiday to honor the nation’s mothers.  By 1910, because of these efforts, the governor of West Virginia proclaimed the second Sunday in May as Mother’s Day.  Nearly every state picked up the holiday the following year, and by 1914 President Woodrow Wilson officially announced the second Sunday of May as a new national holiday, Mother’s Day.

After spending so much time and effort to get the holiday established, by 1923 Ms. Jarvis filed a lawsuit to stop the holiday.  Like many others since, she felt the holiday had been too commercialized and that businessmen were just trying to make money from it. In fact, at the Mother’s Day festival, Jarvis caused such a commotion that she was arrested for disturbing the peace because they sold white carnations – which was Jarvis’ symbol of motherhood.  She told a reporter she wished she’d never created the holiday.  Eventually she died alone in a mental institution in 1948.

Mother’s Day continues despite Jarvis’ attempts to have the day to honor mothers removed from historical record.  Many other countries also have a Mother’s Day, although they are not all celebrated on the same day or have the same origins.  Denmark, Turkey, Australia, Belgium, Italy, and Finland do celebrate the holiday on the second Sunday of May, just like the United States. But in the UK, the history of Mother’s Day is believed to stretch back as far as the 17th Century and “Mothering Sunday”, a day when children (especially daughters) were given the day off from domestic service to visit their families and “mother” church. Mothering Sunday is traditionally the fourth Sunday of Lent and has become a day to honor all mums.

Most mothers will receive cards and gifts on this day although they probably would prefer just being pampered for the day.  No matter how you celebrate Mother’s Day, make sure you let your mother know how important she is to you, and express to her how much you love her.  Those are probably the greatest gifts a mother could receive from their children.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

CommentLuv badge