9 May 2019
Posted in History, Tidbits & trivia

A short history: Mother’s Day.

This coming Sunday, Mother’s Day in the United States (and elsewhere around the globe), it’s time to put Mom on a pedestal. Here’s a bit of history on the holiday and a few fun facts.

Mars and the goddess Rhea Silvia with her twins, Romulus and Remus. Painting by Rubens, circa 1617.

Mars and the goddess Rhea Silvia with her twins, Romulus and Remus. Painting by Rubens, circa 1617.

According to History.com, celebrations of motherhood can be traced back to the ancient Greeks and Romans, who held festivals in honor of the mother goddesses Rhea and Cybele. The clearest modern precedent for Mother’s Day, however, is the early Christians’ Mothering Sunday, celebrated on the fourth Sunday of Lent. Originally, this was an occasion for the faithful to return to their “mother church”—the main church near their home—to participate in a special service.

Over the centuries, the Mothering Sunday tradition became a more secular holiday in which children would present mothers with tokens of their appreciation.

The American incarnation of Mother’s Day was created by Anna Jarvis in 1908, and it became an official holiday for us in 1914. Jarvis, the daughter of a women’s organizer during the Civil War, conceived of Mother’s Day as a way of honoring the sacrifices mothers customarliy make for their children. Through a massive letter-writing campaign to newspapers and prominent politicians of her day, she eventually convinced President Woodrow Wilson to sign a measure officially establishing the holiday on the second Sunday in May.

Ironically, Jarvis would later denounce the holiday’s commercialization, and she spent the latter part of her life trying to excise it from our calendar.

Did you know that more phone calls are made on Mother’s Day than on any other day of the year?

This year, Americans are expected to spend $2.58 billion on Mother’s Day flowers.

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