Mother’s Day is a celebration to honor a person’s mother for what they have done for them. Though this holiday is celebrated on various days throughout the months of March or May around the globe, in the U.S. it is celebrated on the second Sunday of May.
Mother’s Day is different from similar traditions around the world commemorating mothers, such as the Greek cult to Cybele, the Roman festival of Hilaria, or the Christian Mothering Sunday celebration. Even though these celebrations linked to Mother’s Day, this celebration is in a category all its own.
The origin of Mother’s Day in the U.S. began in 1908 when Anna M. Jarvis held a memorial for her mother at St Andrew’s Methodist Church in Grafton, West Virginia. She campaigned for it to become a national holiday in 1905, the year her mother, Ann Reeves Jarvis, died.
In 1908, with help from a Philadelphia department store owner, named John Wanamaker, she organized the first official Mother’s Day celebration. Jarvis made a very big deal out of this celebration she started. She did this for a couple of reasons.
The first reason is she wanted to have a day honoring the sacrifices mothers made for their children. Another reason is that she felt holidays in America were biased toward men, so she started a letter campaign to make her visions a reality. Anna was successful and on May 8, 1914, President Woodrow Wilson signed a proclamation designating the second Sunday in May as Mother’s Day, after already being widely celebrated by many starting in 1912.
Jarvis suggested the use of the white carnation as a badge and wanted the celebration to be something personal — between moms and their families. It became a very popular holiday, however, there was one particular element of the holiday Jarvis abhorred. She hated the commercialization of the holiday, and spoke out against anyone who made revenue off of candy, flowers, etc., using the name “Mother’s Day.” She spent the rest of her life attempting to remove Mother’s Day from the calendar but unfortunately, this never happened.
Although she did not get her wish, the holiday that Jarvis created ended up helping a problem that she spoke about; American holidays being biased toward men. In 1968, Coretta Scott King chose Mother’s Day to march in order to support underprivileged children and women.
Not everyone can be like King and lead marches to help the underprivileged on Mother’s Day. They can, however, do what they have done for many years and simply celebrate their mothers. In more than 46 countries, people celebrate by doing numerous things.
Many countries hold special prayer services for mothers. However, most people use the most common method of celebrating, which is serving their mother breakfast in bed. This breakfast usually comes with flowers, cards, candy, and jewelry. While this is normally done by the adults in the family, there are things the children can do as well.
Children sometimes create handmade cards and are on their best behavior to give their mother a day’s rest. They can do the chores in the house to help make the house run smoothly and make their mother feel appreciated. The celebration usually starts at home, but it can be done anywhere, especially a place the mother desires to go.
Aside from just buying things and taking the mother out, many people do things that come straight from the heart. Many people write poems or songs for their mothers, or even make/take pictures for their mothers to keep.
There are many ways to celebrate Mother’s Day. Whatever is done for a mother on this day is an attempt to make her feel as special as possible seems to be the most typical.
Written by Trinity Oglesby
Edited by Cathy Milne
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