Mother’s Day is a holiday born near the dawn of the 20th century. It was conceived by a woman who, ironically, later degraded the holiday as too commercial and tried to end it.
The holiday was not without precedent. Since ancient days, motherhood has been celebrated in some form. The Ancients celebrated their mother goddesses and later Christians celebrated Mothering Sunday. The latter began as a religious day that was part of Lent but transformed into a secular day for giving mothers gifts.
After the American Civil War, a day was recognized for the mothers of soldiers. Throughout the late 19th century, other mother’s days were declared by the temperance movement and by suffragettes.
Modern Mother’s Day
What we recognize today as Mother’s Day was devised by Anna Jarvis, who was mourning her mother. Jarvis wanted a day that would acknowledge mothers’ sacrifices.
The first Mother’s Day event was held in a West Virginia church in 1908. The event was successful and Jarvis started a letter-writing campaign with the intent to getting Mother’s Day instated as a national holiday.
In 1914, the second Sunday in May became Mother’s Day in the United States. The holiday also is celebrated around the globe at various times of the year. Mother is singular possessive because it is meant to signify a particular family’s mother, not every mother.
It didn’t take long, however, for Jarvis to see her holiday transformed into a money maker for card companies, florists and shop keepers. This was not what Jarvis had envisioned. She saw a day for church services and social visits, a day in which all mothers would wear white carnations.
Beginning in 1920 until her death in 1948, Jarvis worked tirelessly to stop the holiday of Mother’s Day.
What gift did you get your mother this year? Leave a comment below.
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