Holidays & Celebrations


Mother’s Day


A Brief History of Mother’s Day

A Brief History of Mother’s Day

Mother's Day is celebrated around the world, but where did it begin?

It is nice to note that some traditions in our modern world remain simple and intact centering on the family. Mother’s Day is one such tradition, yet its observance in the form we know it today is a relatively modern innovation.

Whether Mother's Day is approaching or has already passed this year, you may find yourself curious about its history. The tales of the different iterations of Mother's Day can make for a fun conversation with your mom. It can also make for a great subject for a school paper!

Motherhood has been honored around the world for thousands of years, but not in the same form that we know today. For many years, motherhood was honored more generally. All mothers were given love and respect, while today celebrations center around mothers as individuals within their families.

It remains to be seen, of course, how Mother's Day might change in the future. Times change and society marches on, so one day Mother's Day as we know it may very well not exist anymore. How do you think Mother's Day will change in the coming decades or centuries?

History of Mother's Day

The Earliest Celebrations

Mothers and motherhood has always been a cause for celebration, but the earliest recorded festivities celebrating motherhood was aimed at deities; mothers of merely mortal origins were honored as a byproduct.

The Greek goddess, Cybele, who was the mother of many of the Grecian gods, was honored in ancient Greece by festivals and feasts. This is generally thought to be the first of any celebrations featuring motherhood at its heart. Parties of ancient date for other mother goddesses were held in Rome, and in most of Asia Minor. Even though these early celebrations were held for deities, earthly mothers were generally treated to flowers or other simple tokens as a part of the celebrations.

Celebrating Mother More Recently

Celebrations of more recent date are the United Kingdom’s observance of Mothering Sunday. This is a tradition dating back to the 16th century. During Lent, on the fourth Sunday, children would return home to attend Sunday church services with their mothers. It is speculated that this tradition was of enough importance that the masters of apprentices and maidservants were obliged to allow leave for them to visit mothers even at a distance.

This traditional holiday is still in force, but the mode of celebration is different and is it no longer of such significant importance. This decline in popularity could be due in part to the proliferation of differing religious denominations. Lent is no longer widely celebrated, thus many of the traditions tied to it have gone by the wayside.

Modern Mother’s Day

The modern celebration of Mother’s Day on the second Sunday in May began in 1912 with Anna Jarvis. At this time she launched her campaign to champion a holiday not just celebrating mothers or motherhood generally. It was in 1912 that Anna Jarvis established the Mother's Day International Association, and set the date of the second Sunday in May for Mother’s Day.

Ms. Jarvis was adamant about this celebration being for one mother, your mother or the mother of your family singular, not a celebration for mothers in general. This idea of honoring your mom among moms has taken off. Originally, the U.S. was unique in the holiday. Now most countries of the world have adopted the second Sunday of May as a national holiday just for Mom.

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