The History of Mother’s Day
May 13, Mother’s Day. So how exactly did this celebration begin?
Contrary to popular belief, Mr. Hallmark didn’t concoct this day in his secret holiday-making lab.
In fact, the concept of Mother’s Day can be traced back to the early Greek and Roman traditions. The Greeks had honored Rhea, considered to be the mother of gods by offering her flowers and cakes while the Romans celebrated the annual Festival of Hilaria when gifts would be offered up to a deity called Magna Mater, the Great Mother.
Fast forward a few more years to medieval Europe when early Christians set aside one Sunday a year to honor Mary. This day was eventually dubbed the “Mothering Sunday”, a day to honor one’s mother.
The concept of “Mothering Sunday” never reached America. Instead, in 1907, Anna Jarvis’ mother died in West Virginia which in turn sparked her campaign to make “Mother’s Day” a recognized holiday. Jarvis held a church service for her mother on May 12, 1907, and five years after that, almost every state started observing Mother’s Day. Finally in 1914, President Woodrow Wilson declared it a national holiday.
Unfortunately, Jarvis’ story didn’t end up as rosy as we would have hoped. After seeing the rampant commercialization behind Mother’s Day, she spent her last few years campaigning against the holiday. She was quoted saying, “A printed card means nothing except that you are too lazy to write to the woman who has done more for you than anyone in the world. And candy! You take a box to Mother–and then eat most of it yourself. A pretty sentiment.”
Despite her bitter end, we are happy to say that Mother’s Day has not been abolished. And yes, moms still love printed cards and boxes of candy.
Happy Mother’s Day!