The History of Mother’s Day
Celebrating Mother’s Day
Whether it’s your mum, grandma, a favourite aunt, teacher, or friend, the women in our lives shape and define us in ways both large and small. Think about the ways your mum and the other women in your life helped you become the person you are.
This day is a time to think about the legacies – personal and societal – that our mothers, grandmothers and other women significant to us have passed on.
Have you ever thought about the history of Mother’s Day, and when it was first celebrated?
According to mythology, Mother’s Day was the Ancient Greek celebration of Rhea, the mother of many gods and goddesses. Rhea had her own holiday, which was celebrated annually. So too did the goddess Cybele in Ancient Rome. In Celtic Europe, the goddess Brigid was honoured in the spring, coinciding with the birth of baby farm animals.
The Mother’s Day that we celebrate started in 1908. Anna Jarvis is recognised as the Founder of Mother’s Day in the US. Though Anna Jarvis never married or had children, she is known as the ‘Mother of Mother’s Day’, an appropriate title for the woman who worked hard to bestow honour on all mothers.
Anna Jarvis got inspiration to celebrate Mother’s Day from her own mother, Mrs Anna Marie Reeves Jarvis, in her childhood. An activist and social worker, Mrs Jarvis used to express her desire that someday someone would honour all mothers, living and dead, and pay tribute to the contributions made by them. Being a loving daughter, Anna never forgot her mother’s words, and when her mother died in 1905, she resolved to fulfil her desire of having a Mother’s Day.
Anna’s hard work paid off. By 1911, Mother’s Day was celebrated in almost every state in the United States and on May 8, 1914, President Woodrow Wilson signed a Joint Resolution designating the second Sunday in May as Mother’s Day.
At first, Anna Jarvis was thrilled. Americans used the occasion to go to church, visit or write home. But then came greeting cards and flowers and presents. When card giving began taking on a life of its own, Anna Jarvis became disillusioned.
In 1923, she went to court to stop the commercialised celebration of Mother’s Day and was even arrested for disturbing the peace. She spent many years and her entire inheritance crusading against Mother’s Day before dying penniless in 1948, horrified at having instigated the by-then solid tradition.
And solid it remains. Mother’s Day is now observed throughout the planet. Through we all come from different cultures, most countries celebrate Mother’s Day in a similar fashion by showing love and expressing gratitude towards mothers and women.
However, there are a few quirky offshoots, such as in the former Yugoslavia where “Materice” is celebrated in December, and children sneak into their mother’s bedroom, tie her up and only release her upon promise of lollies and other gifts.
Nowadays, Kiwi kids young and old love to shower their mum with all sort of gifts, cards and flowers, and the second Sunday of May is one of the biggest dining out days of the year. Telephone lines are also pretty busy then J.
Mother’s Day is coming up this Sunday, but with the coronavirus pandemic, the holiday might look different this year. However, every challenge offers us the opportunity to exercise our creative muscles!
It’s really hard not being able to be with your loved ones, but we are fortunate with the technology we have. Video chats and social media can help us celebrate Mother’s Day together, no matter where we are. Be creative and stay connected.
Celebrating Mother’s Day is not just a fun way to show appreciation for the one who loves you unconditionally; it has important psychological benefits as well. It highlights the importance of finding ways to maintain connections among family members in a time when there are plenty of stressors that can pull us apart.
Celebrating Mother’s Day fosters the emotional warmth and closeness that nourishes us all.
Happy Mother’s Day!
By Vicky Varlamova (Metlifecare’s Learning and Development Manager) with help from her daughter