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How did Mother's day originate?

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Mothers -day -originIt’s not long before anyone with a mum will need to get the glitter and card making equipment out, or get on the phone to a florists (or hurriedly buy something on the way home) - but we’d thought we’d look past the gift buying aspects and focus on at the origin’s of this most maternal of celebrations.

So how long has Mother’s Day been going and where did it start?

The ancient roots of Mothers day

The basis of Mother’s Day is now lost in history - it seems likely that every civilisation has had some kind of ritual or celebration designed to honour mothers and motherhood (if they knew what was good for them!).

Some of the earliest recorded examples date back to Spring festivals held by the ancient Greeks dedicated to maternal Goddesses such as Rhea, the wife of Cronus, who was the fabled Mother of many other deities.

Ancient Romans too celebrated Motherhood as part of their Spring festival “Hilaria” (which sounds fun!) dedicated to another mother goddess Cybele - although, as with many things Roman, this probably has it’s roots in some other civilisation they conquered!

When does Mother’s day become something familiar?

It’s with the early Christians that the practice becomes more recognisable to modern eyes - although it didn’t necessarily have anything specifically to do with human mothers.

During the period of Lent, bang in the middle of it, it was the custom to return to their home town and attend their “Mother” church (presumably the one they were baptised in) - this took place on Laetre Sunday.  It was said these people had gone “a-mothering”.

So in these early stages, officially at least, the event was not strictly anything to do with anyone’s actual mother - it was a figure of speech - but often the day would turn into a family reunion of those working away from their home area (often children working as domestic servants) to see their mothers and family.

When did the Mother’s Day we recognise come into being?

An American social activist names Anna Jarvis (1864 - 1948) is most commonly cited as the originator of the modern Mother’s Day.  The idea came to her after the death of her own mother in 1905, following which she came up with the idea of a day each year to honour the sacrifices mothers made for their children.

Following a successful first try, Jarvis campaigned to have Mother’s Day aded to the national calendar - there followed many letters being written to newspapers and politicians, and eventually, in 1914, the president, Woodrow Wilson, officially established the second sunday in May as Mother’s Day.

From Anna Jarvis’ first steps similar minded women were inspired into action around the world.

Back in the UK, after seeing a newspaper report in 1913 about Anna Jarvis a vicar’s daughter, Constance Smith, started a campaign of her own to establish an official Mother’s Day.

In Japan, after almost 20 years of being unofficially celebrated by Japanese Christians, Mother’s day was officially adopted in May 1932.

Today Mother’s day is celebrated around the world (too many countries to list here), a testament to Anna Jarvis’ vision and tenacity!

What would Jarvis think of Mother’s Day today?

In the United States, the birth place of modern Mother’s Day, the celebration has turned into one of the years biggest holidays - and one of it’s most lucrative.

This aspect is something Anna Jarvis most definitely would not approve of - she ended up denouncing the commercialisation of her concept and, in the last years of her life, actually attempting to have Mother’s day removed from the calendar - but the genie had been well and truly let out of the bottle!

Is there anything we should’ve mentioned?

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By Alastair Baker at 18 Feb 2016, 00:00 AM