The gift of a mother is something that is difficult to put into words, simply because mothers are just extraordinary. Mother’s Day is a wonderful opportunity to show our appreciation, but where did this day and tradition begin?
Mothers Unite In The Name Of Peace
The origin of a Mother’s Day celebration often brings up the name Julia Ward Howe. In 1870, she wrote the Mother’s Day Proclamation. Howe was so affected by the deaths of young soldiers in the Civil War that she encouraged mothers to unite and protest the unnecessary killing of their children.
The vision was to celebrate a Mother’s Day internationally that was about peace and what it meant to be a mother. For a brief period of time, a few American cities celebrated this day but once Howe stopped contributing financially to the festivities, it fell away.
A Daughter’s Tribute In The USA
The start of the 1900s saw a resurgence of this special day and Mother’s Day is now celebrated the world over, usually on the second Sunday in May. The woman who continued the seeds of this tradition was Anna Jarvis from Philadelphia, who began celebrating Mother’s Day in 1908. By 1914, it was an official U.S. holiday. Anna was inspired by her mother, who organised various groups of women to promote and support friendship and well-being.
The Mother’s Day celebration has evolved to include and honour other precious women in our lives who have perhaps taken on the role of a mother. We now know it as a day when we present gifts of cards and flowers and it has become quite the commercial holiday too. What’s ironic is that Anna Jarvis later chose to protest against this. After all, the day had originally started off as the ultimate love letter to her mother.
The Origins Of Honouring Our Mothers
If we travel further back in time, we see festivals and celebrations around the theme of motherhood as part of the ancient Greek and Roman culture. Their mother goddesses were Rhea and Cybele.
If we look at Christian tradition, there was an early festival known as Mothering Sunday in the UK and certain European countries. It would take place on the 4th Sunday of Lent in the Easter calendar, a time when believers would go home to their main church and take part in a celebratory service. People would be given the day off in order to attend, and often this was the only day for whole families to be together in the year.
Mothering Sunday eventually evolved into a day where children would give their mothers flowers and other gifts. By the 1940s, Mothering Sunday had taken its cue from the American version of Mother’s Day.
How We Celebrate Around The World
Mother’s Day is celebrated all over the world, but what’s lovely is that there are different traditions and dates that form part of this significant tradition. Here are a few:
Thailand – celebrates Mother’s Day in August on the queen’s birthday.
Ethiopia – families get together in autumn each year. They sing and enjoy a feast together for Antrosht. Children will provide ingredients for a traditional dish which the mother will make for her family. Afterwards, the mothers and daughters anoint themselves with butter and perform a dance. The men of the family sing songs of honour. This is a celebration of motherhood that takes place over a few days.
Argentina – mothers are honoured with a special dinner, poetry and displays of affection.
France – the official day was created in 1920 but the big focus then was repopulating France after the war. Mothers who had four or five children received a bronze medal. If you had six or seven children, you received a silver medal, and for eight or more, you were awarded gold. This tradition changed with the new government in 1945 to the modern celebration we know today. A popular gift in France today is a cake in the shape of a bouquet of flowers.
India – besides celebrating the modern version of Mother’s Day that we know, Hindus also celebrate a 10 day festival in October called Durga Puja. This holiday is in praise of their divine mother, Durga. It has become one of the biggest events in India where families prepare food and gifts for friends.
Sweden – Mother’s Day takes place on the last Sunday in May. What’s lovely about this celebration is the focus on charity. The Swedish Red Cross sells small plastic flowers in the lead-up to the day, and all the money raised is in support of impoverished mothers and children.
Gifting Traditions And Saying It With Flowers
When we think about what to gift Mom for Mother’s Day, it’s usually flowers that come to mind. Originally, in the time of Anna Jarvis, white carnations were considered the choice to go with. The belief was that white symbolised purity, beauty, and love.
The tradition of giving flowers on Mother’s Day was kick-started by a very clever advertising campaign. In 1917, the Say It With Flowers campaign became one of the most successful and memorable in history. It created the trend of giving flowers as gifts on other celebratory days too.
Here’s To You, Mom
Mother’s Day is now a billion-dollar industry and many florists report that they have their biggest sales in the month of May. Even Google has noted that search traffic in the lead-up to Mother’s Day, and on the day itself, is massive.
This celebratory day has inspired many in history and has even been used to launch important causes, like Coretta Scott King, wife of Martin Luther King, Jr., who in 1968, used Mother’s Day to march in support of less fortunate women and children.
However we choose to honour and celebrate our mothers, and with whichever gifts and traditions, we can be sure of one thing that is timeless and never dates, and that is a mother’s love.
Nathan has always been captivated by numbers and patterns. With a Master’s degree in Statistics, he’s honed his skills to decipher complex data sets and discern market trends.
Over the past decade, Nathan has worked with various firms compiling and analyzing industry spending figures to forecast market movements.