It was May 9th, 1914, President Woodrow Wilson signed a presidential proclamation that officially establishes the first national Mother’s Day holiday in the U.S. But that wasn’t the first time Mother’s Day had been celebrated. Not even in the U.S.
The ancient Greeks had held a celebration in honor of the goddess called Rhea, who they believed to be the mother of many other deities. Later, in 259 BC, the Romans also had held a similar celebration for a goddess named Cybele, on the Ides of March. This spring festival called Hilaria lasted three days. Her followers would make offerings at the temple, hold parades, play games, and also have masquerades.
While these festivals honored a mother, they weren’t extended to include the mother of each household. In 1600s England, Mothering Sunday took place on the 4th Sunday of Lent. It began with a prayer service in honor of Mary, the mother of Christ. Afterward, children would present their moms with flowers.
This last celebration, while it had many similarities to our present version of Mother’s Day, it still wasn’t at all what we celebrate today. So how did our Mother’s Day come about? That is a story in itself.
In 1870 a female activist named of Julia Ward suggested women’s movement that would encourage a day of protest to stand against the war. she was the same writer and poet who wrote the “Battle Hymn of the Republic.” Thinking “all mothers must be against war,” she was able to get the town of Boston to recognize mothers on the second Sunday of June.
But the real credit for our present-day Mother’s Day goes to Anna Jarvis. Anna never had any children herself but wanted to carry out her own mother’s wishes of having a day just for moms. Jarvis tirelessly campaigned and petitioned to make this possible. The first time this idea was brought before Congress in 1908, it was rejected, joking that they would also have to proclaim a “Mother-in-law’s Day,” but Jarvis continued her fight and on May 8th, 1914, President Woodrow Wilson signed a joint resolution, designating the second Sunday in May as Mother’s Day.
So there you have it. This is the story behind the holiday that we’ll be celebrating this next Sunday. This is the holiday that sees the most flowers bought and given away. One-fourth of the flower and plant purchases occur at Mother’s Day, and twenty-five percent of all adults buy flowers on or for this day. Carnations seem to be the most popular flowers. Over $671 million is spent on cards to accompany those flowers.
Many have accused those same industries of making this holiday too commercialized. Even Anna Jarvis became resentful of the commercialization of the holiday. She argued that people should appreciate and honor their mothers through handwritten letters expressing their love and gratitude, instead of buying gifts and pre-made cards. As a result, she organized boycotts of Mother’s Day and threatened to issue lawsuits against companies such as Hallmark and others.
I feel this is one of the commercialized holidays. While many mothers love a handmade gift from their children and buying a card has replaced the thoughtful note, this is still one of the few holidays that really focuses on family. This Sunday my family is getting together for a grill-out and an afternoon together.
What can be more special?