The History of Mother’s Day

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The History of Mother’s Day

Posted by Lauren Rose in Balance 10 May 2018

With Mother’s Day just around the corner, I thought it might be nice to honor all those mothers out there with a deeper look into the traditions of mothers day and where it all started.

Celebrations of mothers dates hundreds of years. Greeks and Romans used to hold events and celebrations to honor their mother goddesses. Europeans would celebrate “Mothering Sunday” which fell during Lent and was a reminder to church-goes to return to their “mother church” for celebration and penance.
Today, other countries continue to celebrate their Mother’s Day in various ways such as honoring a current queen – as seen in Thailand – or to honor motherhood and fertility – as seen in Ethiopia – or even celebrate with festivals and parades and colorful fashion – as seen in Mexico. And today in the US, we celebrate mothers day quite the same; we honor our mothers (or wives/ daughters/ etc), who are queens to us; we celebrate motherhood because we wouldn’t be here without all those mothers out there; and we celebrate or hold events/ parties to get together and be thankful for the mothers in our lives.
But Mother’s Day was not always a holiday in the US and people had to fight hard to get the holiday recognized. According to History.com, “The origins of Mother’s Day as celebrated in the United States date back to the 19th century. In the years before the Civil War, Ann Reeves Jarvis of West Virginia helped start “Mothers’ Day Work Clubs” to teach local women how to properly care for their children… Another precursor to Mother’s Day came from the abolitionist and suffragette Julia Ward Howe. In 1870 Howe wrote the “Mother’s Day Proclamation,” a call to action that asked mothers to unite in promoting world peace…Other early Mother’s Day pioneers include Juliet Calhoun Blakely, a temperance activist who inspired a local Mother’s Day in Albion, Michigan, in the 1870s. The duo of Mary Towles Sasseen and Frank Hering, meanwhile, both worked to organize a Mothers’ Day in the late 19th and early 20th centuries.”
Ann Reeve Jarvis’ daughter, Anna set up mother’s day celebrations around the country to increase support and recognition for mothers as she continued to fight for the official holiday. Finally, in 1914 President Woodrow Wilson agreed to officially recognize Mother’s Day as a holiday. Unfortunately, all her hard work did not pay off (in her opinion) because the holiday blew up into a materialistic holiday with cards and flowers and gifts. Anna felt that the material items took away from the celebrations of motherhood and the gratefulness of mothers everywhere. She wanted to revoke the holiday altogether, but was never successful.
Where would we be if she successfully revoked the holiday? I think we would still be celebrating today. Although material items found their way into the holiday does not mean we are not also grateful to all those mothers out there.

Lauren Rose

Lauren Rose is a talented writer and an aspiring novel author. She graduated from Saint Joseph’s University in 2013 with an English degree and double minored in Sociology and Communications. She is pursuing her Master's in Writing Studies at St. Joseph's University. She works as an Advisor for Graduate Business students @ St. Joseph's University.

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