Why do we celebrate mother’s day, and where did the celebration even originate? As we near another Mother’s day celebration, we contemplate these two questions which likely has not crossed the minds of some you until now. You’ll get the answers, but what you uncover may surprise and you’ll likely never think about Mother’s day the same way again.
Shocking facts about the Origins of Mother’s Day
It has its beginnings in pagan worship. The act of celebrating our mothers and motherhood was first practiced among the Ancient Greeks and Romans, who hosted an annual spring festival honoring the mythological mother goddesses, Rhea and Cybele. It may be a little discomforting to some that a pagan festival may actually be the origins of why we celebrate mothers day, especially given the fact that its such a popular celebration among the church.
Modern day celebration started in UK as “Mothering Sunday”
Early Christians in the UK and across some parts of Europe used to celebrate a festival called “Mothering Sunday,” which marked a time when followers of the faith would return to their “mother church” for a special service. The “mother church” was the main church within the vicinity of where they lived. The celebration would usually be held on the fourth Sunday in Lent.
The Mothering Day celebration however, would transition into a secular holiday, where children would give their mothers flowers and other gifts to show their appreciation. The practice would eventually fade out, then later merge with the American Mother’s Day in the 1930s and 1940s as the celebration became very popular in the US.
The founder of Mother’s Day was never a mother herself
Mother’s Day as we know it today was really due to the efforts of one Anna Jarvis, who conceptualized the celebration after the death of her mother Ann Reeves Jarvis in 1905. She wanted to honor the sacrifices that mothers made for their children. Jarvis herself however, in a surprising turn of events, would never marry and also remained childless for her entire life! How ironic that one of the main persons responsible for why we celebrate mothers day, never even experienced motherhood herself.
Why we celebrate mother’s day
Anna Jarvis was able to organize the first official Mother’s Day celebration, in May of 1908 after receiving financial support from John Wanamaker, who owned a department store in Philadelphia. The celebration was held at a Methodist church in Grafton, West Virginia. Wanamaker also had another Mother’s Day event at one of his retail stores in Philadelphia on the same day, and that was attended by thousands of patrons who came to celebrate motherhood.
Jarvis, after seeing how successful her first Mother’s Day was, purposed to have the celebration added to the national calendar. She argued that there was a bias towards occasions celebrating male achievements, noting that American holidays were all dedicated to honouring the work that men have done for their country, while the woman’s contribution was ignored.
Jarvis worked to garner support for a special day honouring motherhood through a massive letter writing campaign to newspapers as well as influential politicians. She also founded the Mother’s Day International Association to help promote her cause.
Jarvis’ efforts would begin to bear fruit, as Mother’s Day became an annual celebration among many states, towns and churches. She was finally able to realize her goal, as President Woodrow Wilson, officially established the second Sunday in May as Mother’s Day, in 1914.
So there you have it, we have a couple Ancient Greek and Roman goddesses as well as a motherless and unmarried woman to thank for why we celebrate mothers day. That shouldn’t change your perceptions about what the day represents however. Mothers should be love and appreciated. It is a day they deserve, for they are often bread winner, nurturer, and leader, and many families, schools, churches, and nations would crumble if not for them.