What’s the Real Story Behind the History of Mother’s Day?
There seems to be a holiday for every member of the family these days, but none is probably more important than Mother’s Day.
What daughter or son would dare forget the woman who gave birth to them? With that in mind, here are a few historical tidbits about the origins of Mother’s Day.
Celebrations venerating the mothers in our lives, and the ‘universal’ mother inherent in nature, have been around for ages. In Egypt, the ancients held festivities in honor of the goddess Isis, who is credited with starting the male line of the pharaohs. She is thus known as the ‘the mother of the pharaohs.’ The Greeks and the Romans, for their part, celebrated the goddess Cybele (Rhea in Greek), who happened to be mother to the most important gods in the Roman pantheon, including the almighty Zeus.
The ‘mother’ church
Back in the day, Europeans used to refer to the Catholic Church as the ‘Mother Church.’ Even now, some people still see it in this light. Since the church was supposed to look after people’s needs, both spiritual and temporal, Sundays (especially around the time of Lent) became days to honor both the ‘mother’ church, and mothers at large.
‘Mothering’ Day in England
The link between mothers and Sundays grew in popularity over time. In old England, many poor women worked as servants or laborers, far away from their families. On Mothering Sunday, the women would head home for a day of rest, where they were honored with a cake and flowers by their relatives. It was a day many women looked forward to.
Mother’s Day in America and the Civil War
Many traditions in America come from the cultures of the people who settled this vast continent, but are given a twist. After the carnage of the Civil War, Julia Ward Howe, a fierce advocate for peace, wrote a Mother’s Day proclamation. In her proclamation of 1870, she asked for sons to stop killing sons, in order to end the pain and suffering they inflict on one another, and the mothers who brought them into this world.
Mother’s Day Today
Mother’s Day is now celebrated across the globe. The date has varied over time, and from place to place. In 1908, the United States government began to talk about making this special event an official holiday. West Virginia was the first state to adopt Mother’s Day. It eventually became a national holiday, celebrated across the land on the second Sunday of May each year.
So, remember to honor you mother this May, and all of the loving mothers that have come before her.