The Story Behind Mother’s Day
Every year we celebrate mothers. We buy them gifts and thank them for the care, protection and love that they give us. But where does this holiday come from and how is it celebrated in other countries?
Mother’s Day is not as old as the world but it has been going on for a number of centuries. Antiquity was the first to have established a day dedicated to mothers. The Greeks and Romans organized a ceremony every Spring in honor of Rhea and Cybele, mother deities. In the Middle Age, a very Christian era, it was tradition to dedicate Spring and particularly the month of May to Mary, the mother of Jesus.
In the United States, Anna Reeves Jarvis is most often credited with founding Mother’s Day. After her mother, Ann, died on May 9, 1905, Jarvis set out to create a day that would honor her and other moms. She began the movement in West Virginia, which prides itself on hosting the first official Mother's Day celebration three years later at Andrews Methodist Episcopal Church. In 1914, President Woodrow Wilson signed a bill recognizing Jarvis' idea as a national holiday to be celebrated each second Sunday in May.
In France, celebrating mothers and more generally the family, was an idea of Napoleon. He was the first to bring up the idea of an official Mother's Day in the Spring of 1806 . Initially, the goal was to honor mothers of large families.
However, it was not until April 20, 1926, that the first national Mother's Day took place. The practice of honoring the mothers of large families, with the awarding of "Medals of the French Family" began. It, however, never had great success until 1941, when Marshal Pétain instituted Mother's Day to repopulate France after the Second World War. Pétain wanted to formalize this holiday to celebrate the role of housewives. In 1950, the holiday was officially set for the 4th Sunday in May. If it falls on Pentecost Sunday, Mother's Day is postponed to the first Sunday of June.
In England, Mother's Day, called Mothering Sunday, is always celebrated on the 4th Sunday of Lent, i.e. around Mid-March. It was originally a day to honor the Virgin Mary, also known as Mother Mary. Later, Mothering Sunday became a day when domestic workers would visit their “mother” church, usually with their mothers. It was the only time that the families would gather since the workers were not given any other free time. On their way to church, children and young people would pick wildflowers and give them to their mothers. This evolved into the tradition of gift-giving.
Mother's Day has been celebrated in Germany on the second Sunday of May for over 75 years. It dates back to the Middle Ages. There was a Sunday in Thuringia, a state in Germany, where relatives would visit and congratulate each other with spring. The plant was associated with the beginning of life. Since women give life, people celebrated them. No one went to work. Instead, they visited their mothers and pampered them on that day. The Germans started celebrating Mother’s Day officially in 1922 and in 1933 it was declared an official holiday.
In Spain, Mother's Day was created in honor of the national festival of the Virgen of Immaculate Conception. Therefore, the day is celebrated on the 8th of December. After the official declaration of Mother's Day by Woodrow Wilson, the country separated the two celebrations. On one day they would celebrate the day of the Immaculate Conception, and on the other, Mother's Day in honor of maternity.
However, in 1965, Mother's Day was moved to the first Sunday in May. They chose this month for religious reasons, as May is the month of the Virgin Mary, mother of Jesus. However, these days Mother's Day is more commercial. Restaurants respect this custom by offering a flower to mothers and grandmother.
No matter how Mother’s Day started in your country, it’s about showing our mothers how much we appreciate them. So don’t forget to the moms in your life on this special day.
Happy Mother’s Day!