The Origins of Mother’s Day

07 Apr 2016

They brought us into this world. They love us, guide us, support us and are always there to lend a helping hand or give us a piece of sound advice. They can be our best friend or our worst nightmare, but one thing holds true, they will always be our mother and we love them for it.

Mother’s work hard and it’s only fitting that we have a special day to honor them, but where did this tradition come from? The answer may surprise you. Read on to discover the origins of Mother’s Day and the traditional roots it’s so deeply steeped in.

Masquerading in Honor of 'Mothers'

Masquerading in Honor of ‘Mothers’

Historical Goddesses

When we are looking for the origins of Mother’s Day, our search leads us as far back as Greek mythology. Spring festivals were held in honor of the maternal goddess called, Rhea. She was the wife of Cronus and was believed to be the mother of many deities.

Not to be outdone by the Greeks, ancient Romans also celebrated a spring festival called, Hilaria. This celebration was dedicated to Cybele, another mother goddess and took place around 250 B.C. Traditionally this festival was held on the Ides of March and would have the followers of, Cybele, making offerings at the temple. This would last three days and included parades, games and masquerades.

Honor Mom this Mother's Day

Honor Mom this Mother’s Day

Mothering Sunday

Dating back to the 1600’s in England, Mothering Sunday is more closely related to our present day celebrations of Mom. This special day took place on the 4th Sunday of Lent and began after a prayer service in honor of the Virgin Mary. Children brought flowers and gifts to give to their mothers and it was also a day that servants were relieved from their duties and encouraged to visit their own moms.

Julia Ward Howe Mother’s Day Plea

Another historical tribute to the origins of Mother’s Day started in the US in 1872 with a woman named, Julia Ward Howe. This woman was a beacon for women’s rights by being an activist, writer and a poet – she wrote the “Battle Hymn of the Republic”. She also suggested a day of peace and strongly advocated to women to stand up against the war – this can be read in her famous Mother’s Day Proclamation from 1870.

From this plea she initiated a Mother’s Day of Peace to be observed on the 2nd Sunday of June. She carried this out in Boston for several years. With tireless persistence she finally had the official celebration of Mothers Day declared on that day.

Anna Jarvis Mother’s Day Founder?

Although Anna Jarvis never married or had children, she deeply loved and respected her own mother and it was Mrs Anna Marie Reeves (Jarvis’ mother) that inspired her to create a day just for moms.

Carnations ~ A Mother's Pure Love

Carnations ~ A Mother’s Pure Love

Anna’s mother was adamant that moms should be given a day to be recognized, so Anna went about to make that happen. After her mother’s death in 1905, Anna’s spark was fueled and she began her quest by sending her mother’s favorite flower, the carnation (which she felt symbolized a mother’s pure love) to a church service in Grafton, West Virginia. From here, Anna and her (now gained) supporters wrote letters to government officials lobbying for Mother’s Day to be made official. Her campaigning worked and on May 8th, 1914 President Woodrow Wilson signed a Joint Resolution designating the second Sunday in May as Mother’s Day.

Today Mother’s Day is celebrated all over the world. Although it has become quite commercialized, the sentiment is still genuine. Mother’s everywhere should be given the love and honor they deserve, if not everyday of the year, at least on the one day that the efforts of some very dedicated woman made a realization.

Surprise your mother this Mother’s Day with your love and some kind words (and flowers or a special gift never hurt, either). Let her know you appreciate all she has done for you over the years and give her back at least a little of what she has done for you.

Original Mother’s Day Gift? Name a Star!