Explore the fascinating history of Mother’s Day
A mother’s love has no limits – when it comes to her love and devotion there’s simply nothing your mother won’t do for you. Therefore, in many countries individuals around the world have decided to dedicate a special day especially for their mothers. But, how exactly did the idea behind Mother’s Day originate?
People around the world show their appreciation for their mothers on Mother’s Day
The origins of Mother’s Day can be traced back to the era of the ancient Greek and Romans; during this period the Greeks and Romans held festivals for the mother goddesses Rhea and Cybele. The latest and more moderate version of Mother’s Day, however, can be dated back to the Christian festival, ‘Mothering Sunday’ that was first held in the UK. The traditional festival was organised on the fourth Sunday of Lent and during this time the Virgin Mary, also known as the Mother of Christ, was celebrated.
Greeks and Romans held festivals for the mother goddesses Rhea and Cybele
The festival progressed after the 19th century into a more secular holiday where children in Europe started celebrating their own mothers with presents and flowers. The holiday shifted over to America in the 1930s and 1940s where they established an official Mother’s Day; a day that was suggested by Julia Ward Howe in 1872.
Julia Ward Howe suggested a day in which mothers are honoured annually
How Mother’s Day progressed
Julia Ward Howe is known for being an activist, writer and poet who gained her popularity after singing about the Civil War in her song, “Battle Hymn of the Republic”. In 1872 the public figure suggested that mothers around the world should be celebrated annually on 2 June while dedicating the entire day to peace; the day was referred to as the “Mother’s Day Proclamation”.
Another public figure, who assisted in the origins of Mother’s Day in the 19th century was Ann Reeves Jarvis of West Virginia. She created the “Mothers’ Day Work Clubs” in which women were given an opportunity to learn more about childcare. In 1868, Ann brought mothers together along with former Union and Confederate soldiers to promote reconciliation during “Mothers’ Friendship Day” – a day she helped create.
The official Mother’s Day, as we know it today, was established after Ann Reeves Jarvis’s death in 1905; it was then that her daughter, Ann Jarvis conceived Mother’s Day as a day in which we honour mothers for the sacrifices they’ve made for their children. In 1908, with the help of Philadelphia department store owner, John Wanamaker she arranged for a Mother’s Day event to be held.
Ann Jarvis is considered to be the Mother of Mother’s Day
With the success of the occasion, Ann insisted that the day is added to the national calendar; due to multiple public American holidays paying tribute to males, Ann urged politicians to adopt the day to honour mothers and motherhood. She started a massive letter writing campaign urging everyone relevant to start this special day.
In 1912 many establishments including churches, towns and multiple states adopted the celebration and in 1914 president Woodrow Wilson signed a form stating that every second Sunday in May is, in fact, Mother’s Day. The day then continued to be spread across the world with children showering their mothers with cards, flowers and gift.
A few examples of how Mother’s Day is celebrated around the world
In Europe mothers are spoiled with cards, Simnel Cake (glazed fruitcake), flowers and special dinners
Before the idea of Mother’s Day spread to Europe in the 1700s the people used to decorate the churches in which they got baptised during the mid-lent holiday. During this time, they would also take a break from lent fasting and have a family feast to honour their mothers. This special day was called, “Mothering Sunday”, but finally fell out of practice during the 1900s. Today, it is tradition in Europe to celebrate Mother’s Day with a card, Simnel Cake (glazed fruitcake), flowers and special dinner to honour their mothers.
Mother’s Day gifts in Japan are handbags, scarfs, handkerchiefs and red carnations
Before WWII Japanese Christians celebrated Mother’s Day according to American traditions; the day was called haha ni hi. The special day was met with controversy and came to a significant halt due to the fact of it being a western practice. In 1949 Mother’s Day returned as a tradition, but this time around the day was dedicated to mothers who lost their children in the war. Today, Mother’s Day is once again celebrated in a traditional manner. The day is held on the second Sunday of May with children preparing traditional dishes their mothers taught them how to prepare. In Japanese culture, Mother’s Day gifts consist of handbags, scarfs, handkerchiefs and red carnations.
The Mother’s Day tradition is less than a decade old in India
When it comes to India the celebrations of Mother’s Day is still a fairly new concept to the country; in India the tradition of Mother’s Day is less than a decade old. Like most countries, the special day is celebrated on 10 May. On this day people of India take the time to reflect on the important role their mothers play in society. They will give their mothers cards and prepare a meal, so they could take a break from the kitchen. In bigger cities such as Delhi, Mother’s Day has extended to a week-long festival. During this time, families will spend weeks cooking meals and gathering gifts while decorating their homes for elaborate parties.
The people of Ethiopia consider Mother’s Day to be a very important day of the year
In Ethiopia children and families celebrate Mother’s Day with a lot of enthusiasm and dedication. Unlike, other countries where Mother’s Day is only celebrated for a day Ethiopia expanded it to over three days; the festival is known as Antrosht and also refers to the celebrations of a new season. During this time mothers are showered with gifts and special treatments from friends and family.
No matter where you are in the world, the idea of Mother’s Day remains the same. The special day has been put aside annually to make mothers feel appreciated and admired. It’s a time for people around the world to honour that special woman in their life. In essence, your mother is like a diamond and should be treasured. Make sure to make this Mother’s Day count!