History of Mother's Day

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Ah, Mother's Day...are there many international holidays more revered than this celebration of the cherished women in our lives?

The history of Mother's Day, as Americans now know, started as a seed in the mind of activist Julia Ward Howe, the lyricist behind the patriotic anthem “Battle Hymn of the Republic.” Severely disturbed by the effects of the Civil War on soldiers and their families, Howe determined that women, mothers especially, have an express duty to promote peace in the world. In 1870, she issued a “Mother's Day Proclamation” to unify the women of the world against the devastation and brutality of war, lobbying unsuccessfully for an official observance of a Mother's Day for Peace.

The attempts to establish a nationally recognized holiday for mothers didn't die with Howe, nevertheless. In 1907, Anna M. Jarvis, a Philadelphia schoolteacher, initiated her own crusade for Mother's Day, bombarding legislators and other influential men to bring this important day to fruition. The campaign to memorialize mothers was dear to Jarvis' heart. As a young girl, she heard her mother express hope that an official Mother's Day would one day be sanctioned. Jarvis never forgot her mother's words and vowed after her mother died that she would somehow make the establishment of Mother's Day come to pass. Jarvis' efforts were eventually successful; President Woodrow Wilson formally pronounced the second Sunday in May as Mother's Day in 1914, fulfilling Jarvis' promise to her mother and initiating a holiday that is celebrated by millions each year.

The history of Mother's Day is different in many countries. Though celebrated, albeit at different times, beginning with the ancient Greeks and their penchant for elaborate merrymaking and festivities.

According to About.com, every spring the Greeks held a fete to glorify Rhea, the Mother of the Gods. Early Christians held a similar festival on the fourth Sunday of Lent to venerate the Virgin Mary. English clergymen later established the recognition and honor of all mothers on this day. The official name became "Mothering Sunday". Servants were typically allowed a day off from work to be with their mothers at this time.

Many African countries follow the British concept of Mother's Day but there have been celebrations for mothers' dating back for centuries. In East Asia, Mother's Day follows the American holiday traditions.

Mother's Day Traditions


There are many American Mother's Day Traditions. Mom's will be served breakfast in bed by their children and children will present their mothers with gifts. These are typically sentimental and thoughtful gifts expressing their love and gratitude and may be gifts that were handmade or bought in a store. This is also considered one of the busiest holidays for the telephone lines as many children will call their moms to wish them a Happy Mother's Day. Restaurant's have long wait times from brunch to dinner as taking mom "out to eat" is common. Of course, you don't want mom to cook on "her" day.

Adult's will give their mothers red carnations as this is the official flower of Mother's Day. If their mother has passed white carnations are placed at the grave site.

Today, Mother's Day is not just for mom's but all women who have had a "motherly" influence in a person's life. It can be aunts, grandmothers, godmothers, sisters, or even friends who receive recognition on this day. Many times a mother will give a gift to her daughter who is celebrating her 1st Mother's Day.

A Mother's Day Tradition in Germany is the children will present their mothers with a bouquet of flowers and giving a Mother's Day card has become very popular. Mother's Day is also celebrated on the second Sunday in May.

In England the Mother's Day Tradition is that the domestic workers are allowed the day off to spend time with their families. Churches also give flowers to children to give to their moms as a token of love.

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