Sunday, May 13, 2007

Happy Mothers Day

The (unofficial) History of Mother's Day

Many people are uncertain about its origins. Below is the history and origins of Mother's Day.


The earliest Mother's Day celebrations are traced back to the spring celebrations of ancient Greece in honor of Rhea, wife of Cronus and the Mother of the Gods and goddesses. In Rome the most significant Mother's Day-like festival was dedicated to the worship of Cybele, another mother goddess. Ceremonies in her honor began some 250 years before Christ was born. This Roman religious celebration, known as Hilaria, lasted for three days - from March 15 to 18! Some say the ceremonies in honor of Cybele were adopted by the early church to venerate the Mother of Christ, Mary. Others believe the Mother Church was substituted for mother goddess and custom began to dictate that a person visit the church of his/her baptism on this day. People attended the mother church of their parish, laden with offerings.


During the 1600's, England celebrated a day called "Mothering Sunday", celebrated on the 4th Sunday of Lent (also called Mid-Lent Sunday)."Mothering Sunday" honored the mothers of England. As Christianity spread throughout Europe the celebration changed to honor the "Mother Church" -- the spiritual power that gave them life and protected them from harm. Over time the church festival blended with the Mothering Sunday celebration . People began honoring their mothers as well as the church. During this time many of the England's poor worked as servants for the wealthy. As most jobs were located far from their homes, the servants would live at the houses of their employers. On Mothering Sunday the servants would have the day off and were encouraged to return home and spend the day with their mothers. A special cake, called the mothering cake, was often brought along to provide a festive touch. Sometimes furmety was served - wheat grains boiled in sweet milk, sugared and spiced. In northern England and in Scotland, the preferred refreshments were carlings - pancakes made of steeped pease fried in butter, with pepper and salt. In fact, in some locations this day was called Carling Sunday.
Another kind of mothering cake was the simnel cake, a very rich fruit cake. The Lenten fast dictated that the simnel cake had to keep until Easter. It was boiled in water, then baked, and was often finished with an almond icing. Sometimes the crust was of flour and water, colored with saffron.


In the United States Mother's Day was first suggested in 1872 by Julia Ward Howe as a day dedicated to peace.
The cause of world peace was the impetus for Julia Ward Howe's establishment, over a century ago, of a special day for mothers. Following unsuccessful efforts to pull together an international pacifist conference after the FrancoPrussian War, Howe began to think of a global appeal to women
"While the war was still in progress," she wrote, she keenly felt the "cruel and unnecessary character of the contest." She believed, as any woman might, that it could have been settled without bloodshed. And, she wondered, "Why do not the mothers of mankind interfere in these matters to prevent the waste of that human life of which they alone bear and know the cost?" Howe's version of Mother's Day, which served as an occasion for advocating peace, was held successfully in Boston and elsewhere for several years, but eventually lost popularity and disappeared from public notice in the years preceding World War I.
Anna M. Jarvis (1864-1948) is credited with originating the United States Mother's Day holiday. She never married and was extremely attached to her mother, Mrs. Anna Reese Jarvis. Mrs. Jarvis was a minister's daughter who for 20 years taught Sunday School in the Andrews Methodist Church of Grafton, West Virginia. Miss Jarvis graduated from the Female Seminary in Wheeling, West Virginia, and taught in Grafton before moving to Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, with the rest of her family. For Anna Jarvis, also known as "Mother Jarvis," community improvement by mothers was only a beginning. Throughout the Civil War she organized women's brigades, asking her workers to do all they could without regard for which side their men had chosen. And, in 1868, she took the initiative to heal the bitter rifts between her Confederate and Union neighbors. The younger Anna Jarvis was only twelve years old in 1878 when she listened to her mother teach a Sunday school lesson on mothers in the Bible. "I hope and pray that someone, sometime, will found a memorial mother's day," the senior Jarvis said. "There are many days for men, but none for mothers."
Anna Reese Jarvis died in Philadelphia in May of 1905. Still unmarried and left alone with her blind sister Elsinore, Anna missed her mother greatly. Two years after her mother's death (1907) Anna Jarvis and her friends began a letter-writing campaign to gain the support of influential ministers, businessmen and congressmen in declaring a national Mother's Day holiday. She poured out a constant stream of letters to men of prominence --President William Taft and former President Theodore Roosevelt among them-- and enlisted considerable help from Philadelphia merchant John Wannamaker. She felt children often neglected to appreciate their mother enough while the mother was still alive. She hoped Mother's Day would increase respect for parents and strengthen family bonds.


Ms. Jarvis persuaded her mother's church in Grafton, West Virginia to celebrate Mother's Day on the second anniversary of her mother's death, the 2nd Sunday of May. Carnations, her mother's favorite flowers, were supplied at that first service by Miss Jarvis. White carnations were chosen because they represented the sweetness, purity and endurance of mother love. Red carnations, in time, became the symbol of a living mother. White ones now signify that one's mother has died. By the next year Mother's Day was also celebrated in Philadelphia. By 1911 Mother's Day was celebrated in almost every state. Nowdays, flowers have become an almost universal way to send Mother's Day wishes.


The House of Representatives in May, 1913, unanimously adopted a resolution requesting the President, his Cabinet, members of Congress, and all officials of the federal government to wear a white carnation on Mother's Day. Congress passed another Joint Resolution May 8, 1914, designating the second Sunday in May as Mother's Day. The U.S. flag is to be displayed on government buildings and at people's homes "as a public expression of our love and reverence for the mothers of our country." President Woodrow Wilson issued the first proclamation making Mother's Day an official national holiday.

The first Mother's Day proclamation was issued by the governor of West Virginia in 1910. Oklahoma celebrated Mother's Day that year as well. By 1911 every state had its own observances. By then other areas celebrating Mother's Day included Mexico, Canada, China, Japan, South America and Africa. The Mother's Day International Association was incorporated on December 12, 1912, with the purpose of furthering meaningful observations of Mother's Day.Mother's Day has endured. It serves now, as it originally did, to recognize the contributions of women. And Mother's Day, like the job of "mothering," is varied and diverse. Perhaps that's only appropriate for a day honoring the multiple ways women find to nurture their families, their communities, their countries, and the world at large.


BurdockBoy said...

I had no idea.

I think I like Mother's Day more now that I have heard a bit of it's history.

I just remember it from chool when we had to make some type of gift with macaroni and glue.

marybeth said...

Happy mother mag

Andrea said...

Glad you could share the history of Mother's Day with all..I thought that was a pretty neat email myself. Hope you had a GREAT day!!!!

maggie said...

Andrea, yes thought it was interesting.

Marybeth, right back at you on Mothers day

I love the history of holiday even the ones I don't celebrate.

Write From Karen said...

What a wonderful mom moment!! The kids are too cute!

tegdirb92 said...

Wow!! Thanks, I didn't know that. Happy WW!

Sherry said...

I'm here from WW. You have two cuties there.