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On This Day – May 9th: Mother’s Day

Mother’s Day is a holiday that’s observed all over the world in different ways and it’s meant to honor motherhood. On this day, we celebrate the women who are responsible not only for our existence but also for our values and so much more. In the U.S., Mother’s Day is celebrated on the second Sunday of May, which is May 9th this year.

Traditionally, mothers are presented with flowers, greeting cards, and many other gifts. Mother’s Day has a rich history behind it, so today we’ll learn a few things about it and how it has been celebrated through history.

The History of Mother’s Day

The celebration of motherhood goes as far back as ancient Greece and ancient Rome, where they used to hold festivals to honor Rhea and Cybele, the mother goddesses. However, the modern precedent for this holiday is traced back to a Christian festival called “Mothering Sunday”, which used to be a big tradition in the UK and Europe.

The celebration was held on the 4th Sunday of Lent and people would go to their “mother church” to enjoy a special service. Over time, this became more of a secular holiday, where children would give mothers flowers and gifts to show their moms how much they appreciated them.

The origin of Mother’s Day takes place in the 19th century, and there are a couple of precedents:

For one, there are the Mother’s Day Work Clubs, which were started by Ann Reeves Jarvis years before the Civil War. These clubs brought women together so they could learn about child care. Then, the clubs united to create a force during in a part of the country that was still split in the Civil War. In 1868, Ann Reeves Jarvis organized the Mothers’ Friendship Day so mothers could gather with former soldiers from the Union and the Confederation to encourage reconciliation.

Another precedent would be the Mother’s Day Proclamation, written by Julia Ward Howe, who called mothers to come together and promote world peace.  She campaigned throughout 1873 to have Mother’s Peace Day celebrations every June 2nd.

Officially, the holiday came to be in the 1900s thanks to Anna Jarvis’ efforts, who was Ann Reeves Jarvis daughter. After her mother died, she campaigned for Mother’s Day with the objective of honoring the sacrifices made by mothers for the wellbeing of their children. This was personal for her; she wanted to honor her mother.

In May 1908, the first celebration of Mother’s Day happened in a Methodist church and a Mother’s Day event took place the same day at a Wanamaker retail store, where thousands of people gathered.

After this success, Anna Jarvis was committed to make Mother’s Day a national holiday, so she started her campaign. By 1912, many churches, states, and towns would celebrate the holiday every year. Anna Jarvis created the Mother’s Day International Association to promote the cause further. Finally, in 1914, President Woodrow Wilson officially established that the second Sunday of May would be Mother’s Day. 

Other Mother’s Day Traditions Around the World

Mother’s Day is celebrated around the world in different versions, so the traditions vary greatly depending on the country. For instance, Thailand celebrates this holiday in August, on the day of queen Sirikit’s birthday. In Ethiopia, they hold a multi-day celebration to honor motherhood and families come together to sing and have a feast. In the U.S., we continue celebrating Mother’s Day by giving our mothers flowers and other gifts, so it has become a commercial holiday.

How to Celebrate Mother’s Day

There are many ways to celebrate Mother’s Day and show our mothers how much we care about them and how grateful we are for them. For example, you can make her breakfast in bed, give them the day off and take care of everything at home so they can relax, send them to a spa day or prepare a spa day at home, spend the day together doing things she loves, throw them a surprise party, host a family dinner, or get them flowers and a nice gift. Whatever you do, make sure it’s something she can truly enjoy! Think about what your mom likes to do and the things she loves to figure out the best way to celebrate them.

Photo by Acharaporn Kamornboonyarush from Pexels

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