The earliest history of Mothers Day dates back to the ancient annual spring festival the Greeks dedicated to maternal goddesses. The Greeks used the occasion to honor Rhea, wife of Cronus and the mother of many deities of Greek my
Ancient Romans, too, celebrated a spring festival, called Hilaria dedicated to Cybele, a mother goddess. It may be noted that ceremonies in honour of Cybele began some 250 years before Christ was born. The celebration made on the Ides of March by making offerings in the temple of Cybele lasted for three days and included parades, games and masquerades. The celebrations were notorious enough that followers of Cybele were banished from Rome.
The more recent history of Mothers Day dates back to 1600s in England. Here a Mothering Sunday was celebrated annually on the fourth Sunday of Lent (the 40 day period leading up to Easter) to honor mothers. After a prayer service in church to honor Virgin Mary, children brought gifts and flowers to pay tribute to their own mothers.
On the occasion, servants, apprentices and other employees staying away from their homes were encouraged by their employers to visit their mothers and honor them. Traditionally children brought with them gifts and a special fruit cake or fruit-filled pastry called a simnel. Yugoslavs and people in other nations have observed similar days.
Custom of celebrating Mothering Sunday died out almost completely by the 19th century. However, the day came to be celebrated again after World War II, when American servicemen brought the custom and commercial enterprises used it as an occasion for sales.
While countries around the world celebrate their own Mother’s Day at different times throughout the year, several countries, including the United States, Italy, Australia, Belgium, Denmark, Finland, and Turkey celebrate it. Arise, all women who have hearts!
In the United States, the origins of the official holiday go back to 1870, when Julia Ward Howe, abolitionist best remembered as the poet who wrote “Battle Hymn of the Republic,” worked to establish a Mother’s Peace Day. Howe dedicated the celebration to the eradication of war, and organized festivities in Boston for years.
In 1907, Anna Jarvis, of Philadelphia, began the campaign to have Mother’s Day officially recognized, and in 1914, President Woodrow Wilson did this, proclaiming it a national holiday and a “public expression of our love and reverence for all mothers.”
Today’s commercialized celebration of candy, flowers, gift certificates, and lavish meals at restaurants bears little resemblance to Howe’s original idea. There is nothing wrong with that. But here, for the record’s sake, is the proclamation she wrote in 1870, which explains, in her own impassioned words, the goals of the original holiday.
Arise, all women who have hearts, whether your baptism be that of water or of tears! Say firmly: “We will not have great questions decided by irrelevant agencies, our husbands shall not come to us, reeking with carnage, for caresses and applause.
“Our sons shall not be taken from us to unlearn all that we have been able to teach them of charity, mercy and patience. We women of one country will be too tender of those of another country to allow our sons to be trained to injure theirs.”
From the bosom of the devastated earth a voice goes up with our own. It says, “Disarm, disarm! The sword is not the balance of justice.” Blood does not wipe out dishonor nor violence indicate possession.
As men have often forsaken the plow and the anvil at the summons
of war, let women now leave all that may be left of home for a great and earnest day of counsel. Let them meet first, as women, to bewail and commemorate the dead. Let them then solemnly take counsel with each other as to the means whereby the great human family can live in peace, each learning after his own time, the sacred impress, not of Caesar, but of God.
In the name of womanhood and of humanity, I earnestly ask that a general congress of women without limit of nationality may be appointed and held at some place deemed most convenient and at the earliest period consistent with its objects,
to promote the alliance of the different nationalities, the amicable settlement of international questions, the great and general interests
Until tomorrow: Family is not an important thing. It’s everything.