In case you’ve somehow missed the oodles of commercials and ads for Mother’s Day this year, it’s coming up on May 11. It’s time to confirm those brunch reservations, perfect your breakfast-in-bed skills, and call in a favor at the florist so you don’t end up with grocery store-brand wilted flowers. However, if you really want to impress Mom this year, how about learning about the origins of this “mom”oth holiday?
Mother’s Day is celebrated, in some form, around the world, almost always in the spring. That’s generally in April or May in the northern hemisphere. Argentina celebrates in October. One of the global traditions includes giving Mom something she truly appreciates, from the latest gadget to a handwritten note of appreciation. While Mother’s Day in the U.S. began in the 20th century, it’s not directly linked to the similar celebrations around the world.
A grand tradition
Mothers have been celebrated for thousands of years, going back all the way to the Cybele cult in Greece. Hilaria, the Roman Festival, was largely centered on mothers themselves, while the Mothering Sunday Celebration of Christianity was originally intended to celebrate “mother church,” but then shifted to celebrating the woman who gave you life (or stepped into those shoes at any other time). The debut of Mother’s Day on a global scale is fairly recent, but many cultures still tie it back to old traditions.
America’s first Mother’s Day took place in 1908, compliments of Anna Jarvis who held a memorial for her mother in Grafton, West Virginia. Jarvis followed up with campaigning to make “Mother’s Day” a nationally recognized official holiday celebration. She succeeded in 1914, and in six years it was already highly commercialized. Even 100 years ago, Hallmark had a penchant for capitalizing on the most beloved of holidays.
Spreading the motherly love
In the 1920s, the popularity of Jarvis’s holiday began to spread to other countries. During this era, the common way to mark the occasion was by giving Mom a card, gift, or a remembrance towards maternal figures who have passed. Technically, honoring mothers happened similarly in the 1870s, but only at a very local level. When Jarvis achieved her “Mother’s Day for Peace,” she didn’t mention these previous efforts in her campaign.
Experts have said that Mother’s Day is also partially based on Children’s Day, a common festival in schools around the world. Jarvis also failed to take note of Mothering Sunday, claiming that Mother’s Day as we know it was a brand-new creation. She asked that the “second Sunday in May” be the official holiday and also founded the Mother’s Day International Association. Specifically, she said that “Mother’s should be a singular possessive, for each family to honor its mother, not a plural possessive commemorating all mothers of the world,” but that grammatical appeal hasn’t always been upheld, as the day is sometimes written “Mothers’ Day.”
Celebrate in (your mom’s) style
Although Jarvis tried valiantly to control the spread of “her” holiday, no two moms are alike. Different countries have adopted their own changes, marking different dates to align with religious holidays or local traditions. However you celebrate this Sunday, customize it for the special woman in your life.