As a tribute to all moms, including moms of multiples, I wanted to do a little background research on the celebration of Mother’s Day and share it with you. What I didn’t realize was what a long, involved history Mother’s Day in fact has! Enjoy the following history lesson … because there will be a test. 😉
Rooted in religion and peace-restoration
Going back to the 17th century, the early Christians in England celebrated a day devoted to Mary, the Mother of Jesus, and eventually expanded to include all mothers calling it “Mothering Day”, honoring the mothers of England. As Christianity spread throughout Europe, the occasion changed to celebrate and honor “Mother Church”, who provided spiritual protection and was the source of spiritual birth. As time went on, all mothers were honored on Mothering Day as well, celebrated just before the holy feast of Easter.
When the American colonies were being settled, the English settlers all but forgot Mothering Day due to lack of time and attention. During the Civil War, a British American woman and social activist named Julia Ward Howe (who composed the lyrics to The Battle Hymn of the Republic) was horrified by the death and destruction of war and began a campaign to instill the British tradition of Mothering Day into American culture. She began a crusade against war, and put out an appeal to all women and mothers for peace. In 1872, she went to London to promote an international Women’s Peace Congress. She began promoting the idea of a “Mother’s Day for Peace” to be celebrated on June 2, honoring peace, motherhood and womanhood. Howe failed in her attempt to get the formal recognition of a Mother’s Day for Peace, but it became the precursor to our modern day Mother’s Day.
Influenced by Howe’s efforts to build awareness of the mothers’ role as peace and wellness provider in the family, an Appalachian homemaker named Ann Marie Reeves Jarvis began to spread the awareness of better home cleanliness and sanitation, having been influenced by her physician brother. In what she called Mother’s Friendship Day, she worked and led other women to help heal the nation in the years following the Civil War. As Jarvis’ health began to deteriorate, she was cared for her two daughters, Anna and her sister Elsinore. The two sisters devoted their lives to caring for their mother and continuing their mother’s cause following her death. In 1907, the two women helped to establish Mother’s Day as a nationally-recognized day to remember, celebrate and honor all mothers, living and dead.
Officially named “Mother’s Day”
On May 10, 1908, the first official Mother’s Day was celebrated in Grafton, West Virginia, where Jarvis and her daughters had lived, and where today stands the International Mother’s Day Shrine. The Mother’s Day International Association came into being on December 12, 1912, to promote and encourage meaningful observances of the event, and some states then began to officially declare Mother’s Day a holiday to fall on the second Sunday of May. In 1914 President Woodrow Wilson made the first official announcement proclaiming Mother’s Day a national holiday that was to be held each year on the 2nd Sunday of May.
Though the original spirit of honoring mothers remained the same, what began as a religious service expanded quickly into a more secular observance leading to giving of flowers, cards, and gifts. Although Ann Jarvis was pleased with the growing popularity of Mother’s Day before her death, she was very dismayed about the growing commercial focus of the occasion … including banners and flags to announce the upcoming day.
Mother’s Day is now celebrated not so much with flags as with gifts, cards, hugs, thank you’s and other symbols of affection. The restaurant industry reports that Mother’s Day proves the most popular day for families to eat out! It is celebrated all over the world as a day to acknowledge all mothers and the contributions they made and continue to make in the lives of her children.
It’s all about being thankful
As a mom, and as a daughter, and granddaughter of a some very outstanding women, I look forward to Mother’s Day (in addition to most other days) in order to remind my mother, my mother-in-law and all the moms in my life how special, unique, loved and respected each one of them is. There was a time when I thought I’d never be a mother, so when this day comes around, I’m not only thankful for my mother, but also very thankful to be a mother.
How will you and your family celebrate Mother’s Day? Will you travel to spend the day with your own mother? Since we don’t live close to either my or my husband’s mom, we’ll be calling (or attempting to call) this coming Sunday to talk and send our love and best wishes. Have you noticed that phone service (whether land-lines or cell networks) are jammed up on Mother’s Day more than any other day?
My family spoils me on Mother’s Day, not usually with eating out (since all the restaurants are just too crowded), but usually with homemade cards created out of construction paper and crayons, some potted flowers that we can plant in one of our flower beds, and a barbeque with all the fixings! I can’t wait!
I truly admire all of you moms today because, as we all know, we wear so many hats, and are demanded in ways that women in past decades couldn’t even imagine. I wish all of you, especially all of my moms of twins friends, a beautiful Mother’s day full of relaxation, fun, laughter, hugs, kisses and the spoiling you deserve! Be thankful to your mother for the life and lessons she gave and continues to give you, … and be thankful that those precious children of yours will allow you to be the honorable recipient of love this Sunday!
For the complete Mother’s Day History story, please visit: http://www.theholidayspot.com/mothersday/history.htm
Happy, Blessed Mother’s Day!