Saturday, May 3, 2014

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 11 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 Hallmark's greeting cards.


Cheryl Pierson said...

Shawna, lost my mom in 2008 and I sure do miss her--but especially around Mother's Day. I wish that Anna could realize that everyone celebrates in their own way--it's not always about being commercial. I think she did a wonderful service by getting attention drawn to mothers (who are usually the most overlooked people in the world) and giving them a special day of their own--and then the same for fathers.

Shawna Delacorte said...

Cheryl: I lost my father several years ago, but fortunately still have my mother.

As far as Anna'a campaign to have the holiday repealed, I'm with you in that everyone celebrates in their own way.

Thanks for your comment.