A history of Mother's Day
Published 5:11 am Monday, May 12, 2003
By By James Crawford
The earliest Mother's Day celebrations can be traced back to the spring celebrations of ancient Greece in honor of Rhea, the Mother of the Gods. During the 1600's, England celebrated a day called "Mothering Sunday." Celebrated on the 4th Sunday of Lent (the 40 day period leading up to Easter) "Mothering Sunday" honored the mothers of England.
During this time many of the England's poor worked as servants for the wealthy. As most jobs were located far from their homes, the servants would live at the houses of their employers. On Mothering Sunday the servants would have the day off and were encouraged to return home and spend the day with their mothers. A special cake, called the mothering cake, was often brought along to provide a festive touch.
As Christianity spread throughout Europe the celebration changed to honor the "Mother Church" – the spiritual power that gave them life and protected them from harm. Over time the church festival blended with the Mothering Sunday celebration. People began honoring their mothers as well as the church.
In the United States, Mother's Day was first suggested in 1872 by Julia Ward Howe (who wrote the words to the Battle hymn of the Republic) as a day dedicated to peace. Howe would hold organized Mother's Day meetings in Boston, Mass., ever year until her death.
In 1907, Ana Jarvis from Philadelphia began a campaign to establish a national Mother's Day. Jarvis persuaded her mother's church in Grafton, W.V. to celebrate Mother's Day on the second anniversary of her mother's death, the second Sunday of May. By the next year, Mother's Day was also celebrated in Philadelphia.
Jarvis began to lobby prominent businessmen like John Wannamaker, and politicians including Presidents Taft and Roosevelt to support her campaign to create a special day to honor mothers. At one of the first services organized to celebrate Anna's mother in 1908, at her church in West Virginia, Anna handed out her mother's favorite flower, the white carnation. Five years later, the House of Representatives adopted a resolution calling for officials of the federal government to wear white carnations on Mother's Day. In 1914, Jarvis' hard work paid off when Woodrow Wilson signed a bill recognizing Mother's Day as a national holiday.
At first, people observed Mother's Day by attending church, writing letters to their mothers, and eventually, by sending cards, presents, and flowers.
Mother's Day has since flourished in the United States. In fact, the second Sunday of May has become the most popular day of the year to dine out, and telephone lines record their highest traffic, as sons and daughters everywhere take advantage of this day to honor and to express appreciation of their mothers.
While many countries of the world celebrate their own Mother's Day at different times throughout the year, there are some countries such as Denmark, Finland, Italy, Turkey, Australia, and Belgium that also celebrate Mother's Day on the second Sunday of May.
Editor's note: Information for this story was compliled from the Internet site biography.com.