History of Mother’s Day

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Hey Fam! Mother’s Day is coming up and did you ever stop to think about the history of this day? Yes? Well continue reading and see if there is anything new that you didn’t know about before. No? Well you are in the same boat as me as up until today I never thought to do any research.

The reason behind my research unfortunately, was driven by a wariness and skepticism that I have developed for holiday celebrations in general where companies exploit matters of the heart or of faith. Don’t get me wrong I am down for the cause but not down for overspending and doing something wonderful for only that particular day and the rest of the year is given little to no effort or is forgotten. Even the modern day influencer agreed with my thought process (continue reading to see what I mean).

I found out five (5) interesting things about this day mainly through History.com and thought I would share it with you. So let’s go!

  1. Mother’s Day Predecessors

The earliest traceable celebrations of mothers are the celebrations of ancient Greeks and Romans, who held festivals in honour of the mother goddesses Rhea and Cybele; but the clearest modern predecessor for Mother’s Day is the early Christian festival known as “Mothering Sunday” celebrated in the U.K. and parts of Europe. It was originally seen as a time when the faithful would return to their “mother church”—the main church in their town or village—for a special service. In the 19th century Ann Reeves Jarvis of West Virginia helped start “Mothers’ Day Work Clubs” to teach local women how to properly care for their children. These clubs became a unifying force in a region of the country still divided over the Civil War. In 1868 Jarvis organized “Mothers’ Friendship Day,” at which mothers gathered with former Union and Confederate soldiers to promote reconciliation.

  1. Modern Day Mother’s Day and its Founder

Anna Jarvis, daughter of Ann Reeves Jarvis, following her mother’s 1905 death, thought of Mother’s Day as a way of honouring the sacrifices mothers made for their children. She also argued that American holidays were biased toward male achievements. Jarvis had established the Mother’s Day International Association to help promote her cause. Her persistence paid off in 1914 when President Woodrow Wilson signed a measure officially establishing the second Sunday in May as Mother’s Day. Other ‘feminist’ opportunities came out of this day. In 1968 Coretta Scott King, wife of Martin Luther King Jr., used Mother’s Day to host a march in support of underprivileged women and children. In the 1970s women’s groups also used the holiday as a time to highlight the need for equal rights and access to childcare. Interestingly and on a side note, Anna Jarvis didn’t know what it was like to be a mother as she remained childless her whole life. She didn’t marry either.

  1. Abolition of Mother’s Day?

Her (Anna Jarvis’s) satisfaction with her efforts and what the day represented eventually waned. By 1920 she had become disgusted with how the holiday had been commercialized even though she had initially worked with the floral industry to help raise the Mother’s Day’s profile (commercialization). She outwardly denounced the transformation and urged people to stop buying Mother’s Day flowers, and other items. She also launched countless lawsuits against groups that had used the name “Mother’s Day,” eventually spending most of her personal wealth in legal fees. By the time of her death in 1948 Jarvis had disowned the holiday altogether, and actively lobbied the government to see the holiday removed from the American calendar. Obviously she didn’t succeed.

  1. The Day to Celebrate

Today, Mother’s Day is most commonly celebrated on the second Sunday in May around the world. In my opinion, this is one of the first and one of many examples that remind you that America is not only the world super power- most countries’ currencies are pegged against the U.S. dollar- but it’s the main driver in modern popular culture. The second most celebrated day around the world for Mother’s Day is March 21.

  1. Gifts

Historically, the most common gifts to show mothers appreciation on Mother’s Day were:  flowers such as the carnation, roses and lillies; sentimental cards; and candy such as chocolate. It still is very popular today. Also giving mothers the ‘day off’ or breakfast in bed are other popular ways to show appreciation in modern day times.

So, what do you think? Do you think Anna Jarvis’s actions towards the end of her life were justified? I think she allowed the greediness of others to side-track her efforts. One of the best ways to combat something evil is to do something good. She should have continued the message behind mother’s day and emphasize that one of the most important ways to celebrate mom, is to spend time with her. I hope you too do not forget the reason for the season and if it is that you want to give her a gift, it is one that comes from the heart and has meaning. For ideas click here. Thanks for stopping by and see you in the next post.

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