History of Mother’s Day

Today the festival of Mother’s day is celebrated across 46 countries including US, UK, India, Denmark, Finland, Italy, Turkey, Australia, Mexico, Canada, China, Japan and Belgium. Millions of people across the globe take the day as an opportunity to honor their mothers, thank them for their efforts in giving them life, raising them and being their constant support and well- wisher. The day has become hugely popular and in several countries phone lines witness maximum traffic. There is also a tradition of gifting flowers, cards and others gift to mothers on the Mother’s Day. The festival has become commercialized to a great extent. Florists, card manufacturers and gift sellers see huge business potential in the day and make good money through a rigorous advertising campaign. 

In America, of course, Mother’s Day is the second Sunday in May, as proclaimed by President Woodrow Wilson in 1914. Mother’s Day is a celebration honoring mothers and motherhood, maternal bonds, and the influence of mothers in society. It is celebrated on various days in many parts of the world, most commonly in spring. The celebration of Mother’s Day began in the United States in the early 20th century; it is not related to the many celebrations of mothers and motherhood that have occurred throughout the world over thousands of years, such as the Greek cult to Cybele, the Roman festival of Hilaria, or the Christian Mothering Sunday celebration. 

Mother’s Day History Origin of Mother’s Day goes back to the era of ancient Greek and Romans. But the roots of Mother’s Day history can also be traced in UK where a Mothering Sunday was celebrated much before the festival saw the light of the day in US. However, the celebration of the festival as it is seen today is a recent phenomenon and not even a hundred years old. This is due to the hard work of the pioneering women of their times, that the day came into existence. 

Beginning in the 1850s, Ann Reeves Jarvis of West Virginia started Mothers’ Day Work Clubs in order to teach women proper child-care techniques and sanitation methods. In the years following the Civil War, these same clubs became a unifying force for a country ripped apart by conflict. In 1868, Jarvis and other women organized a Mothers Friendship Day, when mothers gathered with former soldiers of both the Union and Confederacy to promote reconciliation. After Ann Reeves Jarvis died in 1905, it was her daughter Anna Jarvis who would work tirelessly to make Mother’s Day a national holiday.

Anna Jarvis is recognized as the Founder of Mother’s Day in US. Though Anna Jarvis never married and never had kids, she is also known as the Mother of Mother’s Day, an apt title for the lady who worked hard to bestow honor on all mothers. Anna never forgot her own mother’s word and when her mother died in 1905, she resolved to fulfill her desire to have a day for mothers. She then began a campaign to make “Mother’s Day” a recognized holiday in the United States. In 1912, Anna Jarvis trademarked the phrases “second Sunday in May” and “Mother’s Day”, and created the Mother’s Day International Association. She specifically noted that “Mother’s” should “be a singular possessive, for each family to honor its mother, not a plural possessive commemorating all mothers of the world.” In 1925, when an organization called the American War Mothers used Mother’s Day as an occasion for fundraising and selling carnations, Jarvis crashed their convention in Philadelphia and was arrested for disturbing the peace. Later, she even attacked First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt for using Mother’s Day as an occasion to raise money for charity. By the 1940s, Jarvis had disowned the holiday altogether, and even actively lobbied the government to see it removed from the calendar. Her efforts were to no avail, however, as Mother’s Day had taken on a life of its own as a commercial goldmine. Seeking to regain control of the holiday she founded, Jarvis began openly campaigning against those who profited from Mother’s Day,

including confectioners, florists and other retailers. She launched numerous lawsuits against groups using the name Mother’s Day, and eventually spent much of her sizeable inheritance on legal fees.

In some countries the date was changed to a date that was significant to the majority religion, such as Virgin Mary Day in Catholic countries. Other countries selected a date with historical significance. For example, Bolivia’s Mother’s Day is the date of a battle in which women participated. As the United States holiday was adopted by other countries and cultures, the date was changed to fit already existing celebrations honoring motherhood, such as Mothering Sunday in the United Kingdom or, in Greece, the Orthodox celebration of the presentation of Jesus Christ to the temple. The earliest history of Mother’s Day dates back to the ancient annual spring festival the Greeks dedicated to maternal goddesses. The Greeks used the occasion to honor Rhea, wife of Cronus and the mother of many deities of Greek mythology.  

Early Christians celebrated a Mother’s Day of sorts during the festival on the fourth Sunday of Lent in honor of the Virgin Mary, the Mother of Christ. In England the holiday was expanded to include all mothers. It was then called Mothering Sunday. Ancient Romans, too, celebrated a spring festival, called Hilaria dedicated to Cybele, a mother goddess. It may be noted that ceremonies in honour of Cybele began some 250 years before Christ was born. The celebration made on the Ides of March by making offerings in the temple of Cybele lasted for three days and included parades, games and masquerades.

The more recent history of Mother’s Day dates back to 1600s in England. Here a Mothering Sunday was celebrated annually on the fourth Sunday of Lent to honor mothers. After a prayer service in church to honor Virgin Mary, children brought gifts and flowers to pay tribute to their own mothers. Custom of celebrating Mothering Sunday died out almost completely by the 19th century. However, the day came to be celebrated again after World War II, when American servicemen brought the custom and commercial enterprises used it as an occasion for sales. On the occasion, servants, apprentices and other employees staying away from their homes were encouraged by their employers to visit their mothers and honor them. Traditionally children brought with them gifts and a special fruit cake or fruit-filled pastry called a simnel. 

Mother’s Day in most Arab countries is celebrated on 21 March, the first day of spring in the northern hemisphere. It was introduced in Egypt by a journalist. When the journalist was arrested and imprisoned, there were attempts to change the name of the holiday from “Mother’s Day” to “Family Day” as the government wished to prevent the occasion from reminding people of its founder.

In Hindu tradition Mother’s Day is called “Mata Tirtha Aunshi” or “Mother Pilgrimage fortnight”, and is celebrated in countries with a Hindu population, especially in Nepal. The holiday is observed on the new moon day in the month of April/May. This celebration is based on Hindu religion and it pre-dates the creation of the US-inspired celebration by at least a few centuries.

The tradition of giving gifts to mothers on Mother’s Day in Australia was started by Janet Heyden in 1924. She began the tradition during a visit to a patient at a state home for women, where she met many lonely and forgotten mothers. To cheer them up, she rounded up support from local school children and businesses to donate and bring gifts to the women. 

Chinese government’s official newspaper, an article explained that “despite originating in the United States, people in China accept the holiday without hesitation because it is in line with the country’s traditional ethics – respect for the elderly.”  Chinese Mothers’ Festival Promotion Society want to replace the Western-style gift of carnations with lilies, which, in ancient times, were planted by Chinese mothers when children left home.

So, with all of this great history in mind the following are a few great gift suggestions when you celebrate your mother this Mother’s Day!

IPhoto 4 & 4s Cell Phone Cover (9597) These high quality cell covers feature a full wrap photo (no plain edges to show). The case is available for iPhone 3, iPhone 4 and 4s, Samsung Galaxy II and BlackBerry Bold. Please specify phone when ordering.

Photo Self Stick Memo Cube – Two Photos (2883) Picture Perfect Memo cubes…because they are your pictures!  Place 2 of your favorite photos on alternating sides of this memo cube of self-stick memos.  Each self-stick memo pad measures 3 3/8″ square and has 675 sheets.

Petal Pushers Notes (5484) Make letter writing fun for your teen or ‘tween’ with our Petal Pusher notes. The fold notes feature a vibrant design on the front and back. Size: 5 1/2″ x 4 1/4″ Set includes 24 notes and 24 pink plain envelopes Optional printed envelopes available

Inspire Spa Set (6917) Indulge in a little luxury with these spa soaps. Each bar is made “fresh” in Vermont and triple milled for quality and long-lasting lather. These 100% vegetable-based soaps exude an aqua mineral scent that is water-based for mass appeal. The neutral, warm white color compliments every décor. Your choice of personalization is deeply carved into each individual bar.

Spring Blossoms Collection Book Plate (9835) Personalize your book collection with these pastel floral, self-adhesive book plates. Set includes 24 Book Plates

Natural Wood Frame – Style 2, Horizontal (2813_2H) Keep your special memories on display with our Natural Wood Frames.  Each frame is available laser engraved in different ways to celebrate your life.  Frames hold a 4″ x 6″ photo.  Features an easel back for table top display or may be hung.  Size: 9″ x 7″  

Crossroads® Personalized Candles (2832) These personalized, double wick Crossroads® 26 ounce jar candles are perfect for anyone on your list.  They are available in a variety of scents and colors and will burn for 120-140 hours.  Candles measure 5 1/2″ x 4″.  Laser engraved with choice of monogram or up to 3 lines of copy.

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