It’s quite hard to believe, but we are almost halfway through the year, and just a little bit closer to the month where we get to rejoice our motherhood. Mother’s Day is celebrated in the month of May in most countries around the world, and it falls in different days depending on the country. It is the time where people celebrate and honor motherhood and all its aspects – the mother of the family, the maternal bonds in different forms, and the roles and contributions of mothers in our society. It is a time when families make their mothers feel extra special, when more phone calls are made, and greetings and appreciations full of love are extended. It is when we moms feel that special warmth swelling in our hearts as we think about doing a job well done with our maternal responsibilities and our influence on the people around us as mothers.
While this special day for moms all over the world have been going on for many years already, have you ever wondered how it came to be? Let’s take a short trip down the memory lane as we learn where it all began.
The earliest celebration of Mother’s Day can be dated back to the ancient Greeks and Romans, where they held festivals in honor of the maternal goddesses. For the Greeks, these festivals were dedicated to the goddess Rhea, the wife of Cronus and also the mother of several deities of Greek mythology. The Romans, on the other hand, held their festivals to celebrate their mother goddess, Cybele. And then, the early Christians had a similar celebration, where the mother of Christ, Virgin Mary, was honored during the fourth Sunday of Lent; soon enough the celebration included all mothers, thereby calling it “Mothering Sunday.” During this day, children would give presents and flowers to their mothers, usually after a prayer service in church to honor Virgin Mary. This Christian celebration is considered the closest precedent to how Mother’s Day is currently celebrated.
It was Julia Ward Howe who first suggested the idea of an official Mother’s Day celebration in the US in 1872. She championed the idea of celebrating Mother’s Day on a specific date and initiated the observance of Mother’s Peace Day on the second Sunday of June in Boston. Her ideas came to life later in the Mother’s Day holiday being celebrated in May. However, it is widely believed that Anna Jarvis is recognized as the founder of Mother’s Day in the US. Anna campaigned for Mother’s Day to become an official holiday after her mother’s death in 1905. She wanted it to be a special day of honoring motherhood and the sacrifices that mothers made for their children, despite being unmarried and childless herself. She started working hard towards achieving her goal – she gained financial support, organized the first official Mother’s Day celebration by holding a memorial for her mother, and wrote several campaigns that urged the adoption of the special day. Finally, in 1914, her efforts came into fruition, when President Woodrow Wilson signed a proclamation stating Mother’s Day as a national holiday to be held on the second Sunday of May. As years went by, and much to Jarvis’ disappointment, the holiday became commercialized, with various companies selling Mother’s Day cards, flowers, and other commodities. In a twist of fate, because of this commercialization, Jarvis started campaigning against the celebration, altogether disowning the holiday at the time of her death.
While it may be sad that it had to come to a point where the renowned founder resented what she initially fought for, Mother’ Day celebration still continues up to this day. And in spite of all the modern gimmicks that arose from the simple occasion, I hope we never forget the real essence of this annual celebration: to give honor to the mothers out there and to recognize all the hard work and sacrifices that they did, do, and will do for the rest of their lives.