Today–a day honoring the women in our lives who have put up with endless dirty diapers, blood-curdling screaming fits, and picky taste buds–has been celebrated in one form or another for thousands of years.
It hasn’t always been the Hallmark holiday it has become today. The ancient Greeks and Romans held festivals for their Mother Goddesses, Rhea and Cybele. The occasions were filled with music, drinking and dancing.
The tradition evolved in the United Kingdom and Europe as part of the season of Lent in the Catholic Church. The fourth Sunday of the season was known as “Mothering Sunday.” Parishioners would return to their mother church (the church nearest their home) for a special service honoring the Holy Mother, The Virgin Mary.
The holiday we celebrate today grew out of the Mothers’ Day Work Clubs started by Ann Reeves Jarvis in the mid-1800s. After the Civil War, Jarvis hosted a Mothers’ Friendship Day to encourage reconciliation between Union and Confederate soldiers.
In 1870, Julia Ward Howe wrote the Mother’s Day Proclamation, asking mothers to unite for world peace. Howe petitioned for a Mother’s Peace Day to be held every year on June 2.
It was Ann Reeves Jarvis’ daughter, though, who made Mother’s Day the national holiday. After her mother’s death in 1905, Anna wanted to honor everything mothers do and everything they give up for their children. In May 1908, the first Mother’s Day celebration was held, jointly, in West Virginia and Philadelphia.
The day caught on and by 1912 the day was being widely celebrated. It all became official in 1914 when President Woodrow Wilson signed “Mother’s Day” into being.
Anna Jarvis later boycotted as the day became more and more commercialized–even going so far as to fight to have it removed from the calendar as an official holiday.
Mother’s are celebrated the world over, though not always on the same day as the American holiday. Generally, food and flowers are involved but if you’re needing some inspiration this year look to some of these countries:
Sweden- Go out and sell flowers to send your mother on a little trip
Japan- Draw a portrait of your mom and put it on display
Brazil- Put on a special performance and invite everyone over for barbecue
Germany- Give your mom a medal based on how many kids she has
France- Write your mom a poem and read it to her
Whatever you do, make sure your mom feels loved. We wouldn’t be here without them.