Sunday, May 1, 2016

Mother's Day—A Brief History

Mother's Day is a holiday honoring motherhood. It's observed in different forms in many countries, the date traditionally falling on the second Sunday in May in the United States (Sunday, May 8 this year). The American version of the holiday was created by Anna Jarvis in 1908 and became an official holiday in 1914. Some time later, Anna Jarvis denounced the holiday for being too commercial and spent the latter years of her life trying to get it removed.

The celebration of mothers and motherhood goes back to the ancient Greeks and Romans who held festivals honoring the mother goddesses. However, the clearest precedent for Mother's Day is the early Christian festival known as Mothering Sunday. This was once a major tradition in the UK and parts of Europe, falling on the fourth Sunday in Lent. It was a time when the faithful would return to their mother church (the main church in the vicinity of their home) for a special service. Over time the tradition shifted into a secular holiday with children bringing flowers to their mothers as tokens of appreciation. The roots of the modern American Mother's Day go back to the years prior to our Civil Way (1861-1865)

Even though versions of Mother's Day are celebrated throughout the world, traditions vary from country to country. For example, in Thailand Mother's Day is always celebrated in August on the birthday of the current queen. And in Ethiopia families gather each fall to sing songs and eat a large feast as part of a multi-day celebration honoring motherhood.

In the US, Mother's Day has become one of the biggest holidays for consumer spending…definitely a biggie for the greeting card industry and florists.


Ashantay said...

I'd read somewhere that Mother's Day was begun as an anti-war movement. Now I must go check out that memory - how interesting that Ms. Jarvis felt the holiday became too commercial. My mother said the same.

Samantha Gentry said...

Ashantay: This was just a brief overview. She very well may have intended a loving gesture to her mother as a means of protesting war. She fought long and hard to get it recognized as a 'real' holiday. When she became disgusted with how her beloved holiday was being treated and the crash commercialism connected to it, she spent the rest of her life going through all types of maneuvers, unsuccessfully, in an attempt to get it overturned.

Thanks for your comment.

Mary Morgan said...

Interesting post on the history. I had no idea the origin of this day. Always look forward to reading your posts, too.

Samantha Gentry said...

Mary: Thanks, I appreciate your support.

Thanks for your comment.