Wednesday, February 7, 2007

Mother's Day - History and Origin

The earliest traces of Mother’s Day celebrations can be found in Greece and Rome. The ancient Greeks held a spring festival in honor of Rhea, the mother of the Greek gods. And the Romans had Cybele, their mother goddess, to honor with an annual celebration. These evolved in the much later Christian celebration to honor mother Mary on the fourth Sunday in Lent (the forty-day period till Easter). This Sunday popularly came to be called the Mothering Sunday in England and Scotland and gradually became a day to honor all the mothers there. Mothering Sunday is still very much a celebration in Great Britain.

Now, the Mother’s Day celebrations in the United States are credited to one woman named Anna Marie Jarvis, whose consistent efforts to create a day especially for mothers finally made the US who’s who sit up and consider recognizing a Mother’s Day every year. Her mother, Anna Maria Reeves Jarvis, played an active role in improving worker health conditions and is remembered still for her notable healing expeditions during the Civil War. And when she died on May 9, 1905, her daughter Miss Jarvis took up the cause of a truly recognized Mother’s Day celebration to honor her own mother Mrs. Anna Jarvis as well as all the other mothers around the world. Acknowledging the growing neglect of American parents in particular, she embarked on her crusade to establish a national observance of Mother’s Day. To pay tribute to her late mom, she held a church service at the Andrews Methodist Church on May 12, 1907. She gave white carnations to all who attended the memorial ceremony as carnations were Mrs. Jarvis’ favorite blooms. It was from then that she committed her life to the mothers’ cause.

Miss Anna Jarvis succeeded in making her mother’s church in Grafton, West Virginia celebrate a Mother’s Day on the death anniversary of Mrs. Jarvis. Church services were held there on May 10, 1908 in memory of Anna’s mother and a similar observance followed in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania the next year. This is considered the very first Mother’s Day celebrations in the United States of America.

Thereafter, Miss Jarvis ran from pillar to post to make Mother’s Day an official holiday in her country. She led campaigns, talked to political parties, wrote letters to ministers, businessmen and fostered in them a need to establish a national Mother’s Day. Her efforts finally bore fruit in 1914, when President Woodrow Wilson declared the second Sunday in May to be celebrated as Mother’s Day and made it a national holiday. Since then, Mother’s Day has been celebrated in the US every year on the second Sunday in May. However, Mother’s Day celebrations existed in many parts of the country even before this declaration. But with President Wilson’s official announcement of 1914, Mother’s Day got its due recognition and started taking shape of a worldwide celebration. Currently, Mother’s Day is celebrated in almost all parts of the world, though on different dates in the year.

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