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The History of Mother's Day
by Brenda Arnold
mother's day is the holiday to celebrate mothersOnly recently dubbed “Mother's Day,” the highly traditional practice of honoring of Motherhood is rooted in antiquity, and past rites typically had strong symbolic and spiritual overtones; societies tended to celebrate Goddesses and symbols rather than actual Mothers. In fact, the personal, human touch to Mother’s Day is a relatively new phenomenon. The maternal objects of adoration ranged from mythological female deities to the Christian Church itself. Only in the past few centuries did celebrations of Motherhood develop a decidedly human focus.

The earliest tributes to mothers date back to the annual spring festival the Greeks dedicated to Rhea, the mother of many deities, and to the offerings ancient Romans made to their Great Mother of Gods, Cybele. Christians celebrated this festival on the fourth Sunday in Lent in honor of Mary, mother of Christ. In England this holiday was expanded to include all mothers and was called Mothering Sunday.

The first North American Mother’s Day was conceptualized with Julia Ward Howe’s Mother’s Day Proclamation in 1870. Howe  planted the seed that would blossom into what we know as Mother’s Day today. A West Virginia women’s group led by Anna Jarvis began to celebrate an adaptation of Howe’s holiday. In order to re-unite families and neighbors that had been divided between the Union and Confederate sides of the Civil War, the group held a Mother’s Friendship Day. After Anna Jarvis died, her daughter Anna M. Jarvis campaigned for the creation of an official Mother’s Day in remembrance of her mother and in honor of peace. In 1908, Anna petitioned the superintendent of the church where her Mother had spent over 20 years teaching Sunday School. Her request was honored, and on May 10, 1908, the first official Mother's Day celebration took place at Andrew's Methodist Church in Grafton, West Virginia and a church in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. In 1912 West Virginia became the first state to officially recognize Mother's Day, and in 1914 Woodrow Wilson signed it into national observance, declaring the second Sunday in May as Mother's Day.

Mother's Day Symbols: The carnation is the symbol for Mother's Day. The carnation was the favorite flower of Anna Jarvis' mother and so Anna Jarvis would always wear a carnation on the early Mother's Day celebration and encouraged others to wear a carnation on that to honor their own mothers. Today some people wear a white carnation to honor a mother who has died, while others wear a pink or red carnation to honor mothers still living.

Mother's Day Customs:  At first, people observed Mother's Day by attending church, writing letters to their mothers, and eventually, by sending cards, presents, and flowers. Anna Jarvis started Mother's Day as a tribute to mothers and become quite upset when florists and card companies began commercializing the holiday. She believed sentiment was being sacrificed at the expense of greed
and profit. In 1923 she filed a lawsuit to stop a Mother's Day festival, and was even arrested for disturbing the peace at a convention selling carnations for a war mother's group. Before her death in 1948, Jarvis is said to have confessed that she regretted ever starting the mother's day tradition.

Typically a family in the United States will devote Mother’s Day to activities in honor of Mom, whether playing games, going out to dinner, taking the weekend off or going on a walk in the park. Flowers are popular, dating back to the original celebration where Anna Jarvis handed out carnations to the church-goers. It is also common to give Mother cards and chocolate candies on her special day.
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The first North American Mother’s Day was conceptualized with Julia Ward Howe’s Mother’s Day Proclamation in 1870. Howe planted the seed that would blossom into what we know as Mother’s Day today. A West Virginia women’s group led by Anna Jarvis began to celebrate an adaptation of Howe’s holiday. In order to re-unite families and neighbors that had been divided between the Union and Confederate sides of the Civil War, the group held a Mother’s Friendship Day.
Starts: 05/11/2014 12:00AM
Ends: 2014-05-12:00.000 Duration: 23:59
United States