Mother’s Day – the day mamas all around the word receive flowers and gifts – may have ties to modern-day consumerism. But there is more to the story.
The official Mother’s Day holiday arose in the 1900s in the US as a result of the efforts of Anna Jarvis. Following her mother’s death, Jarvis thought up Mother’s Day as a way to honour the sacrifices all mothers made for their kids.
After gaining financial backing from a Philadelphia department store owner, John Wanamakerin 1908, Jarvis organised the first official Mother’s Day celebration at a Methodist church in Grafton, West Virginia.
On the same day, thousands of people attended a Mother’s Day “event” at one of Wanamaker’s stores in Philadelphia. It was the proverbial ‘A-Ha’ moment!
The tradition of celebrating motherhood and mothers can also be traced back to the Ancient Greeks and Romans who held festivals in honour of the mother goddesses, Rhea and Cybele.
The clearest modern precedent for Mother’s Day is the early Christian festival known as “Mothering Sunday”. Once a major tradition in the United Kingdom and parts of Europe, this celebration falls on the fourth Sunday in Lent.
It was originally seen as a time when the faithful could return to their “mother church” — the main church in their home town — for a special service. Over time the Mothering Sunday tradition shifted into a more secular holiday, as children presented their mothers with flowers and other tokens of appreciation. This custom eventually faded in popularity before merging with the American Mother’s Day in the 1930s and 1940s.
Mother’s Day Around The World
While versions of Mother’s Day are celebrated worldwide, traditions vary depending on the country.
- Thailand – it’s always celebrated in August on the birthday of Queen Sirikit.
- Ethiopia – families gather each Autumn to sing songs and eat a large feast as part of Antrosht, a multi-day celebration honouring motherhood.
- In some Eastern European countries, Women’s Day is celebrated on March 8.
At times, the day has also been a date for launching political or feminist causes.
In 1968, Coretta Scott King, wife of Martin Luther King Jr., used the holiday to host a march in support of underprivileged women and children.
In the 1970s women’s groups also used the day as a moment to highlight the need for equal rights and access to childcare.
Wish your matriarch a ‘Happy Mother’s Day’ and don’t forget to show your respect and appreciation all year long!