Mother’s Day, an international holiday honoring mothers, is observed in many nations across the world. The modern version of the holiday is celebrated on the second Sunday in May in the United States. Many other countries observe the holiday on this day, while others do it at different periods of the year. On Laetare Sunday, the fourth Sunday of Lent, the custom of permitting those who had migrated away to visit their home parishes and mothers, evolved during the Middle Ages. In the United Kingdom, this became Mothering Sunday, which has mostly been superseded by Mother’s Day in modern times. This year it was held on the 8th of May.

Celebration Of Mothers In Ancient Civilizations

Rhea, the Greek mother of Gods

The tradition of a day dedicated to honoring mothers can be traced back to the ancient Greeks, who conducted festivals to honor Rhea, the mother of all gods. Similarly, the Phrygians celebrated Cybele, the Great Mother of the Gods, with a feast. Early Christians observed a Mother’s Day on the fourth Sunday of Lent to honor Mother Mary. The Romans, likewise, transferred the tradition to their own pantheon. Some countries have kept historical holidays alive; in India, for example, Durga-puja, which honors the goddess Durga, is still celebrated.

Historical Origin Of The Official Mother’s Day

Anna Jarvis

On May 12, 1907, Anna Jarvis of Philadelphia hosted a memorial service for her late mother at Andrews Methodist Episcopal Church, today known as the International Mother’s Day Shrine, in Grafton, West Virginia, thus marking the first official observance of Mother’s Day.

Her mother, Ann Reeves Jarvis, the originator of Mothers’ Day Work Clubs, was a social activist. She was very active in the Andrews Methodist Episcopal Church community as a woman defined by her beliefs. Her daughter, purportedly acquired her inspiration for Mother’s Day during one of her Sunday school lessons in 1876, when Ann finished her lesson with a prayer, stating:

“I hope and pray that someone, sometime, will find a memorial mothers day commemorating her for the matchless service she renders to humanity in every field of life. She is entitled to it.”

Ann Reeves Jarvis

With her death, began her daughter’s campaign to make the day a recognized day of peace.

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However, it was not until May 9th, 1914 that U.S. President Woodrow Wilson proclaimed the 2nd Sunday of May as a public expression of love and reverence for the mothers of the country” and declared it as a national holiday.

Woodrow Wilson

 Originating in the United States, Mother’ Day is now celebrated in more than 50 countries across the world. However, not all countries celebrate it on the same day. Australia, Denmark, Finland, Italy, Switzerland, Turkey, Belgium, and India are among the countries that observe Mother’s Day on the second Sunday in May. Mother’s Day is observed on May 10th in Mexico and many other regions of Latin America. It is commemorated in Thailand on August 12th, the present Queen’s birthday.

Despite Jarvis’ promotion of wearing a white carnation as a tribute to one’s mother, the custom of wearing a red or pink carnation to indicate a living mother or a white carnation to represent a departed mother evolved.

The Commercialization Of Mother’s Day

Despite the fact that Jarvis was successful in inventing Mother’s Day as a liturgical service, she felt resentful at the holiday’s commercialization. Hallmark Cards and other companies began offering Mother’s Day cards in the early 1920s. Jarvis argued that businesses had misinterpreted and exploited the concept of Mother’s Day, and that the holiday’s focus should have been on sentiment rather than profit. As a response, she organized Mother’s Day boycotts and vowed to file lawsuits against those responsible. Jarvis stated that instead of buying gifts and pre-made cards, individuals should express their love and gratitude to their moms through handwritten letters.

Jarvis spoke out against the confectionery producers’ convention in Philadelphia in 1923 and the American War Mothers’ meeting in 1925. Carnations had become connected with Mother’s Day by this time, and the American War Mothers’ sale of carnations to collect money enraged Jarvis, who was imprisoned for disturbing the peace.

She spent the final years of her life attempting to eliminate the holiday she herself had created. Her efforts, however, were successful in the British Isles and other English-speaking countries.

Andrews Methodist Episcopal Church, today known as the International Mother’s Day Shrine, in Grafton, West Virginia

Do you think Mother’s Day is a worthy tribute to motherhood or has it just become another fancy day promoting pretentiousness and serving as a means for capital gain? Let us know your thoughts in the comments down below.

Disclaimer: This article has been fact-checked

Sources: Britannica, National Archives, Office Holidays +more

Image Source: Google Images

Find the blogger @ParomaDey

This post is tagged under Mother’s Day, Anna Jarvis, Ann Reeves Jarvis, Mothers’ Day Work Clubs, Andrews Methodist Episcopal Church, International Mother’s Day Shrine, President Woodrow Wilson, United States, Philadelphia, Grafton, West Virginia

Feature image designed by Saudamini Seth

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