Mother’s Day is a celebration honoring mothers and motherhood, maternal bonds, and the influence of mothers in society. It is celebrated on various days around the world, most commonly in March, April or May.
The actual designation of a holiday for Mother’s Day began here in America. It is not directly descended from the many celebrations of mothers and motherhood that have occurred throughout the world over thousands of years, such as the Greek cult to Cybele, the Roman festival of Hilaria, or the Christian Mothering Sunday celebration. Despite this, in some countries Mother’s Day has become synonymous with these older traditions.
The modern holiday of Mother’s Day was first celebrated in 1908, when Anna Jarvis held a memorial for her mother in America. She then began a campaign to make “Mother’s Day” a recognized holiday in the United States. Although she was successful in 1914, she was already disappointed with its commercialization by the 1920s. Jarvis’ holiday was adopted by other countries and it is now celebrated all over the world. In this tradition, each person offers a gift, card, or remembrance toward their mothers, grandmothers, and/ or maternal figure on mother’s day.
Various observances honoring mothers existed in America during the 1870s and the 1880s, but these never had resonance beyond the local level. Jarvis never mentioned Julia Ward Howe‘s attempts in the 1870s to establish a “Mother’s Day for Peace”, nor any connection to the Protestant school celebrations that included “Children’s Day” amongst others. Neither did she mention the traditional festival of Mothering Sunday, but always said that the creation was hers alone.
In 1912, Anna Jarvis trademarked the phrases “second Sunday in May” and “Mother’s Day”, and created the Mother’s Day International Association She specifically noted that “Mother’s” should “be a singular possessive, for each family to honor their mother, not a plural possessive commemorating all mothers in the world.
God could not be in every place
With loving hands to help erase
The teardrops from each baby’s face,
And so He thought of mother.
He could not send us here alone
And leave us to a fate unknown;
Without providing for His own,
The outstretched arms of mother.
God could not watch us night and day
And kneel beside our crib to pray,
Or kiss our little aches away;
And so He sent us mother.
And when our childhood days began,
He simply could not take command.
That’s why He placed our tiny hand
Securely into mother’s.
The days of youth slipped quickly by,
Life’s sun rose higher in the sky.
Full grown were we, yet ever nigh
To love us still, was mother.
And when life’s span of years shall end,
I know that God will gladly send,
To welcome home her child again,
That ever-faithful mother.
–George W. Wiseman