Inquiring minds want to know so I did a little research… Les
The majority of countries that celebrate Mother’s Day do so on the second Sunday of May. On this day, it is common for Mothers to be lavished with presents and special attention from their families, friends and loved ones. But it wasn’t always this way…
Spiritual Origin of Mothers Day
Only recently dubbed “Mother’s Day,” the highly traditional practice of honoring of Motherhood is rooted in antiquity, and past rites typically had strong symbolic and spiritual overtones; societies tended to celebrate Goddesses and symbols rather than actual Mothers. The personal, human touch to Mother’s Day is a relatively new phenomenon. The maternal objects of adoration ranged from mythological female deities to the Christian Church itself. Only in the past few centuries did celebrations of Motherhood develop a decidedly human focus.
Family Gatherings With Mom
In the 1600’s a clerical decree in England broadened the celebration to include real Mothers, referring to the day as Mothering Day. Mothering Day became an especially compassionate holiday toward the working classes of England. During this Lenten Sunday, servants and trade workers were allowed to travel back to their towns of origin to visit their families. Mothering Day also provided a one-day reprieve from the fasting and penance of Lent so that families across England could enjoy a family feast—Mother was the guest of honor. Mothers were presented with cakes and flowers, as well as a visit from their beloved and distant children.
History of American Celebration
When the first English settlers came to America, they discontinued the tradition of Mothering Day. While the British holiday would live on, the American Mother’s Day would be invented—with an entirely new history—centuries later. One explanation for the settlers’ discontinuation of Mothering Day was that they just didn’t have time; they lived under harsh conditions and were forced to work long hours in order to survive. Another possibility, however, is that Mothering Day conflicted with their Puritan ideals. Fleeing England to practice a more conservative Christianity without being persecuted, the pilgrims ignored the more secular holidays, focusing instead on a no-frills devotion to God.
Julia Ward Howe’s Mother’s Day Proclamation of 1870
The first North American Mother’s Day was conceptualized with Julia Ward Howe’s Mother’s Day Proclamation in 1870. Despite having penned The Battle Hymn of the Republic 12 years earlier, Howe had become so distraught by the death and carnage of the Civil War that she called on Mother’s to come together and protest what she saw as the futility of their Sons killing the Sons of other Mothers. She called for an international Mother’s Day celebrating peace and motherhood.
When the United States congress approved Mother’s Day in 1914, they designated it for the second Sunday in May, and required that the President proclaim the Holiday every year shortly prior to its commencement. Typically a family in the United States will devote Mother’s Day to activities in honor of Mom, whether playing games, going out to dinner, taking the weekend off or going on a walk in the park. Flowers are popular, dating back to the original celebration where Anna Jarvis handed out carnations to the church-goers. It is also common to give Mother cards and chocolate candies on her special day.
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