Mother’s Day History8 May is a Mother’s Day in 2011!
The modern Mother's Day is celebrated on various days in many parts of the world, most commonly in March, April, or May as a day to honor mothers
and motherhood.Ancient Celebrations
One of the earliest historical records of a society celebrating a Mother deity can be found among the ancient Egyptians, who held an annual festival to honor the goddess Isis
, who was commonly regarded as the Mother of the pharaohs.
People in many ancient cultures celebrated holidays honoring motherhood, personified as a goddess. Here are just a few of those:
- ancient Greeks celebrated a holiday in honor of Rhea, the mother of the gods;
- ancient Romans celebrated a holiday in honor of Cybele, a mother goddess, March 22-25 - the celebrations were notorious enough that followers of Cybele were banished from Rome;
- in the British Isles and Celtic Europe, the goddess Brigid, and later her successor St. Brigid, were honored with a spring Mother's Day, connected with the first milk of the ewes.European Celebration - Celebrating Lent & Mother Church
A later incarnation of a holiday to honor Motherhood came from Europe. It fell on the fourth Sunday Lent (the 40 days of fasting preceding Easter Sunday). Early Christians initially used the day to honor Mary, the mother of Christ .This place of worship would be decorated with jewels, flowers and other offerings.Family Gatherings With Mom
In the 1600's a clerical decree in England broadened the celebration to include real Mothers, referring to the day as Mothering Day. Mothering Day became an especially compassionate holiday toward the working classes of England. During this Lenten Sunday, servants and trade workers were allowed to travel back to their towns of origin to visit their families. Mothering Day also provided a one-day reprieve from the fasting and penance of Lent so that families across England could enjoy a family feast—Mother was the guest of honor. Mothers were presented with cakes and flowers, as well as a visit from their beloved and distant children.History of American Celebration
When the first English settlers came to America, they discontinued the tradition of Mothering Day. While the British holiday would live on, the American Mother’s Day would be invented—with an entirely new history—centuries later. One explanation for the settlers’ discontinuation of Mothering Day was that they just didn’t have time; they lived under harsh conditions and were forced to work long hours in order to survive. Another possibility, however, is that Mothering Day conflicted with their Puritan ideals. Fleeing England to practice a more conservative Christianity without being persecuted, the pilgrims ignored the more secular holidays, focusing instead on a no-frills devotion to God. For example, even holidays such as Christmas and Easter were much more somber occasions for the pilgrims, usually taking place in a Church that was stripped of all extraneous ornamentation.Modern antecedents
One of the early calls to celebrate a Mother's Day in the United States was the "Mother's Day Proclamation
" by Julia Ward Howe
. Written in 1870, it was a pacifist
reaction to the carnage of the American Civil War
and the Franco-Prussian War
. Howe called on Mother’s to come together and protest what she saw as the futility of their Sons killing the Sons of other Mothers. With the following, she called for an international Mother's Day celebrating peace and motherhood.
The Proclamation was tied to Howe's feminist
belief that women had a responsibility to shape their societies at the political level.International Women's Day
was celebrated for the first time in 28 February 1909, in the US, by which time Anna Jarvis
had already begun her national campaign in the US. It is now celebrated in many countries on March 8.
In 1912, Anna Jarvis
trademarked the phrases "second Sunday in May" and "Mother's Day", and created the Mother's Day International Association.CarnationsCarnations
have come to represent Mother's Day, since Anna Jarvis delivered 500 of them at its first celebration in 1908. Many religious services held later copied the custom of giving away carnations. This also started the custom of wearing a carnation on Mother's Day. The founder, Anna Jarvis, chose the carnation because it was the favorite flower of her mother. In part due to the shortage of white carnations, and in part due to the efforts to expand the sales of more types of flowers in Mother's Day, the florists promoted wearing a red carnation if your mother was living, or a white one if she was dead; this was tirelessly promoted until it made its way into the popular observations at churches.Mottos
A 21st-century mother might grow pale and wonder where she had gone wrong if she received a Mother's Day card saying " 'Mother's Day.' What sweet remembrance mingles with its happy thought, like fragrant breath of Maytime, by the smiling flowers brought."
On Mother's Day, today's sons and daughters say it with flowers, candy, gifts and perhaps a card with a line or two of verse.
But years ago, mothers treasured sentimental mottoes on embroidered samplers and framed prints. The Victorian home had framed perforated cardboard samplers stitched in wool with the motto "What Is Home Without Mother". The 1920s home would hang a "gift motto," a framed print picturing an idealized mother surrounded by sweet children in colonial dress and a poems.