History of Mother's Day

Marble statuette of Cybele wearing the polos on her head, from Nicaea in Bithynia, - (Istanbul Archaeology Museum)Image via Wikipediaby Mom2Mom

Did you know that Mother’s Day has actually been around since the Ancient Greek and Roman Empires? The Greeks celebrated the holiday in honour of Rhea, the God of motherhood, while the ancient Romans celebrated a similar holiday in honour of Cybele, a mother goddess. Cybele’s festivities took place from March 22-25.

While today’s Moms aren’t quite as lucky as Cybele in having 3 days set aside, just for them, it is nice to know that the practice dates back so long ago.

In reality, the Mother’s Day that we have come to know and practice actually has its closest roots in Merry Old England where it was known as Mothering Sunday. Taking place on the fourth Sunday during Lent, it began as a day when servants and apprentices were allowed to return home for the day to visit their mothers. They often brought with them a gift, sometimes called a Mothering Cake, which consisted of fruitcake or a fruit-filled pastry. By the time of the 19th Century, the holiday had all but fizzled out.

So what revived it? Well, historians seem to have a few explanations… One story states that after World War II, American serviceman brought the custom back home to share with their families, where it ultimately became known and celebrated as Mother’s Day. How nice to know that it was men who recognized the need for a special time to honour Moms.

Apparently, it was from that point on that the commercialization of Mother’s Day actually began. Big box greeting card companies, department stores and restaurants began to jump on the bandwagon, using it as an occasion to drum up business during the month of May.

There is also another story of a young Philadelphia woman named Anna Jarvis, whom many claim to be the official founder of Mother’s Day. It is said that in 1905, Miss Jarvis swore at her mother’s gravesite in 1905 that she would dedicate her life to her mother and establish a Mother’s Day to honour mothers, both living and dead.

In 1907, she passed out 500 white carnations at her mother's place of worship, St. Andrew's Methodist Episcopal Church in Grafton, West Virginia. And on May 10th, 1908, St. Andrew’s was the first church to respond to her request for a Sunday service, honouring Mothers.

Nowadays, the holiday is celebrated on the second Sunday in May, in over 40 countries, including the United States, Canada, Denmark, Finland, Italy, Turkey, Australia and Belgium. Although we may never know the true origins and founder(s) of Mother’s Day, it still remains a special time to acknowledge and thank Moms everywhere for the lifelong love, support, and the single greatest gift that they have given us – Life.

Happy Mother’s Day!

Mom2Mom Magazine, is an online magazine written by moms, for moms. Find mom-relevant issues, insights, product reviews, fun ideas, fashion and beauty, family travel, health, recipes, humor and more. Each issue is filled with realistic, quick and easy reads that matter to Moms.

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