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 in many parts of the world, most commonly in March or May. It complements Father’s Day, a similar celebration honoring fathers.
The celebration of Mother’s Day began in the United States in the early 20th century; it is not related to 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 Grafton, West Virginia. 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 honouring 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 set up a “Mother’s Day for Peace”, nor any connection to the Protestant school celebrations that included “Children’s Day” among others. Neither did she mention the traditional festival of Mothering Sunday, but always said that the creation was hers alone. For more information on previous attempts, see the “United States” section in this article.
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 honour their mother, not a plural possessive commemorating all mothers in the world.” This is also the spelling used by U.S. President Woodrow Wilson in the law making official the holiday in the United States, by the U.S. Congress in relevant bills, and by various U.S. presidents in their proclamations about Mother’s Day. However, “Mothers’ Day” (plural possessive) or “Mothers Day” (plural non-possessive) are also sometimes seen.
Dates around the world
As the American holiday was adopted by other countries and cultures, the date was changed to fit already existing celebrations honoring motherhood, such as Mothering Sunday in the United Kingdom or, in Greece, the Orthodox celebration of the presentation of Jesus Christ to the temple (2 February). Mothering Sunday is often called “Mother’s Day” even though it is an unrelated celebration.
In some countries the date was changed to a date that was significant to the most religion, such as Virgin Mary day in Catholic countries. Other countries selected a date with historical significance. For example, Bolivia’s Mother’s Day is the date of a battle in which women participated. See the “International history and tradition” section for the complete list.
Ex-communists countries, such as the former East Germany, usually celebrated the socialist International Women’s Day instead of the more capitalist Mother’s Day. Some ex-communist countries, like Russia, still follow this custom or simply celebrate both holidays, which is the custom in Ukraine.
Note: Countries that celebrate the International Women’s Day instead of Mother’s Day are marked with a dagger “†”.
To read more about Mother’s Day, follow the link below:
- Mother’s Day (lifewithoutbaby.com)
- The History of Mother’s Day (berries.com)
- The Story of Anna Jarvis (caveshepherd.wordpress.com)
- The Woman Credited as Being the Founder of Mother’s Day Later Spent Her Entire Family Fortune Campaigning Against the Holiday (todayifoundout.com)
- Mothers Day Gift Ideas & History. (giftdarbar.wordpress.com)
- Mother’s Day in America: Historical or Hallmark Holiday? (visualeconomics.creditloan.com)
- Thoughts for Mother’s Day (cocoamill.wordpress.com)
- Not a Hallmark Holiday… (allthatstuffandmore.wordpress.com)