A journey through the history of Mother's Day

Posted in Lifestyle by Xandri Coetzee on 11 May, 2024 at 12:23 p.m.
Many countries around the world celebrate Mother's Day, a cherished tradition that honours mothers and motherhood. Although many often associate the current Mother's Day with flowers, cards, and breakfast in bed, its roots lie in a rich history of maternal appreciation and social activism.

The concept of honouring mothers dates back to ancient civilisations, where festivals and ceremonies were held to honour maternal goddesses. For instance, ancient Greece celebrated the annual spring festival, dedicated to Rhea, the mother of the gods, with feasts, offerings, and rituals.

The day can be traced back to 17th-century England, where a tradition known as "Mothering Sunday" emerged. Held on the fourth Sunday of Lent, Mothering Sunday was a day for people to return to their "mother church" for a special service. Over time, it evolved into a day for children to honour their mothers with flowers and small gifts.

In the United States, Julia Ward Howe, a famous activist, is credited with starting the contemporary Mother's Day movement. In 1870, following the Civil War, Howe penned the "Mother's Day Proclamation," calling for women to unite in promoting peace and social justice. She envisioned Mother's Day as a day for mothers to come together to advocate for peace and disarmament.

However, Anna Jarvis, a social activist from West Virginia, often receives credit for initiating the modern Mother's Day movement in the United States. Inspired by her own mother's dedication to community service and care, Jarvis began campaigning for a national day to honour mothers.

In 1908, Jarvis's efforts yielded results when a church service in Grafton, West Virginia, celebrated the first official Mother's Day. The state of West Virginia officially recognized Mother's Day the following year, and Jarvis launched a campaign to establish it as a national holiday.

In 1914, President Woodrow Wilson signed a proclamation declaring the second Sunday in May as Mother's Day, making it a national holiday in the United States. The holiday quickly gained popularity, with people across the country honouring their mothers with gifts, cards, and special gatherings.

As Mother's Day gained commercial success, Anna Jarvis became disillusioned with the holiday's commercialization. She believed that it had strayed too far from its original intention of honouring mothers and had become more about profit than genuine appreciation. Jarvis spent the latter years of her life campaigning against the commercialization of Mother's Day, even going as far as to file lawsuits against companies that used the holiday for profit.

Despite its American origins, Mother's Day has since spread to countries around the world, each with its own unique traditions and customs for honouring mothers. Many countries celebrate Mother's Day with gifts, flowers, and special meals, while others mark it with religious ceremonies and family gatherings.

Today, Mother's Day serves as a time for people to reflect on the love, sacrifices, and unconditional support of mothers and mother figures everywhere. Whether it's through a simple gesture of appreciation or a heartfelt expression of gratitude, Mother's Day reminds us to honour the maternal bonds that shape our lives.

The history of Mother's Day is a testament to the enduring power of maternal love and the importance of honouring the women who play such a vital role in our lives. From its ancient roots to its modern-day celebrations, Mother's Day continues to remind us of the invaluable contributions of mothers and serves as a reminder to cherish the special women in our lives, not just on one designated day but every day.





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