General Article

The History Of Mother’s Day

Brief History

The origin of Mother’s Day can be traced back to the era of the Ancient Greeks and Romans. However, the roots can also be traced back to the UK. Here it was celebrated much before the festival saw the light of the day compared to the USA. Nowadays the day is celebrated in over 46 countries. However, all countries have different days in which it is observed. The day has always been used to celebrate and honour their mothers and to show appreciation for their efforts in giving birth, raising them and being their constant supporter.

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Earliest memory of Mother’s Day

The Ancient Greeks used to celebrate maternal goddesses during their spring festival. Rhea, the wife of Cronus and mother of many deities, was the first to be honoured during these occasions. The Romans also celebrated spring festival called Hilaria dedicated to Cybele, a mother goddess. Both of these occasions are recognised as the first mothering celebrations, over 250 years before Christ. Christians recognised a Mother’s Day of sorts during the festival on the fourth Sunday of lent to honour the Virgin Mary. The UK has expanded to celebrate all mothers on this day since.  

More recent

Mothers Day dates back to the 1600s in England. After prayers to mourn the Virgin Mary, children brought flowers and gifts to give to their mothers. On these occasions’ servants, apprentices and other employees who worked away from home were encouraged to go home and spend the day with their mothers. Traditionally, the gifts that children gave to their mothers included special fruitcakes and a fruit-filled pastry called simnel. However, the celebration of Mother’s Day had died out by the 19th century. It rose to prominence again following the Second World War.   

Julia Ward Howe

Julia Ward Howe was an American activist, writer and poet who shot to fame with her famous civil war song ‘Battle Hymn of the Republic.’ She had the idea to celebrate mother’s day in 1872. She had suggested that the day should be named Mothers Peace Day and was to be celebrated on 2nd June. Her idea had spread by the time she passed away but the name was replaced and the date in which it was observed also changed.

Anna Jarvis

Anna Jarvis is recognised as the mother of Mother’s Day in America, this despite the fact that she had no husband or children. Her mother was an activist and her desire to one day celebrate all mothers living and dead. With the growing negligent attitude of adult Americans towards their mothers and a desire to honour them Anna’s wishes to bring the day to fruition only gained momentum. Over the next year, she sent letters to people in power of lobbying to make mother’s day official. In 1911, Mother’s Day was celebrated in almost every state in the United States and on the 8th May 1914, President Woodrow Wilson signed a joint resolution to celebrate Mother’s Day every second Sunday in May.

Present day

Mother’s Day is now celebrated around the globe in countries such as the UK, USA and Australia. The main traditional gift is to send flowers and cards, while simnel cake is still a hugely popular gift in the UK. The day is also known as Refreshment Sunday and Pudding Pie Sunday in Surrey. The date of mothers day varies in the UK but is still celebrated on the fourth Sunday of Lent, the same date that it was observed during the 16th century.