Each of our history's begin with mom. It's certainly a great day to express our thoughts and feelings about the most important woman in our lives. But what's the origin of the celebration?
Mother's Day is celebrated in many countries, including the United States, the United Kingdom, Denmark, Finland, Italy, Turkey, Australia, Mexico, Canada, China, Japan and Belgium. The day is used by children and husbands to honor mothers and grandmothers for all that they do and have done in the lives of their children.
Some historians claim that Mother's Day originates from ancient spring festivals dedicated to maternal goddesses. Greeks honored Rhea, wife of Cronus and mother of the gods and goddesses of Greek mythology. Ancient Romans had a spring festival dedicated to Cybele, also a mother goddess. Called Hilaria, this celebration lasted for three days and included parades, games and masquerades.
A more modern version of Mother's Day began in the 1600s in England. "Mothering Sunday" was celebrated on the fourth Sunday of Lent. Small gifts were given, and a special dessert called a simnel cake was served.
In the United States, Mother's Day was first suggested in 1872 by Julia Ward Howe (famous for writing the words to the "Battle Hymn of the Republic"). But it was a woman who was never a mother herself who led the campaign for national recognition of Mother's Day.
Anna Jarvis held a ceremony in 1907 in Grafton, West Virginia, to honor her mother, who had died two years earlier. Jarvis' mother had tried to establish Mother's Friendship Days as a way of dealing with the aftermath of the Civil War. Anna Jarvis began a campaign to create a national holiday honoring mothers. She and her supporters wrote to ministers, businessmen and politicians, and they were successful in their efforts.
In 1910, West Virginia became the first state to recognize the new holiday, and the nation followed in 1914 when President Wilson declared the second Sunday in May to be Mother's Day. Jarvis used white carnations as a symbol for mothers, because carnations represented sweetness, purity and the endurance of a mother's love. (Today, white carnations represent a mother who has passed, while red carnations represent a living mother.)
Unfortunately, over time Jarvis became bitter about the commercialization of the holiday. She filed a lawsuit to stop a 1923 Mother's Day event and was even arrested for disturbing the peace at a mother's convention where white carnations were being sold. Jarvis never married and never had children. She died in 1948.
Mother's Day continues to be a very commercial holiday in the United States but for good reason. Flowers, candy and cards are some of the typical gifts of expression, and phone traffic is especially high on the second Sunday in May as millions upon millions call their mom and send them their love.
My mother had a great deal of trouble with me, but I think she enjoyed it. - Mark Twain (1835 - 1910)