How Did it Begin?
The celebration of Motherhood is an ancient as well as modern tradition. The earliest celebrations of Mother’s Day date back to the Greek spring festivals that honored the Mother of the Gods, Rhea. (What modern woman wouldn’t want to be associated with a goddess?!) We can assume that the honoring of motherhood predates even the Greeks, since matriarchal societies existed long before that recorded history.
It was not until the 1600’s that we began to see the precursor of Mother’s Day in western society. The Church in England set aside the fourth Sunday in Lent (part of the Christian calendar) as Mothering Sunday. Servants, who usually lived in their wealthy employer’s house far from their own homes, were given this day off to visit their mothers. As Christianity became more widespread in Europe, this celebration was broadened to honor Mother Church. Eventually, the honoring of church and mothers, in general, became accepted. To this day, Mothering Sunday is part of the Lenten observance in many churches.
In 1872, the American Julia Ward Howe suggested that a Mother’s Day be set aside as a day to celebrate peace. She called it the “Mother’s Day of Peace”. This fact is rather ironic, as Julia Ward Howe was also the author of the words to the “Battle Hymn of the Republic,” a piece of music that has given spiritual strength to many a soldier throughout many a battle.
The President Makes it Official!
In 1914, President Woodrow Wilson officially proclaimed the second Sunday in May as Mother’s Day. Seven years earlier, a Philadelphian woman, Anna Jarvis, requested that her mother’s church in West Virginia celebrate the anniversary of her mother’s death on the second Sunday in May. Inspired by her personal experience, she began to petition for a special day to celebrate all mothers. Her efforts attracted many others to support a national holiday. By 1911 most states were celebrating Mother’s Day. It took another three years for it to become a national holiday.
It should be noted that many countries throughout the world have their own Mother’s Day; some are celebrated on the same day as the American holiday, while others are at different times of the year. The important thing to remember is that all of these holidays celebrate the unique and wondrous person in our lives known as “Mother”.
Thank you Anna Jarvis, and all those who came before you.
**Agents/Brokers: Cut on the line above. Print this article out on colored paper and give as a handout to your prospective clients this weekend. Add a fresh flower or two and you’ll be remembered!
- Emily Bell, guest writer. Ms. Bell is a freelance writer who lives in Nevada City, California.