Most people mistakenly believe that Mother's Day is an invention of the greeting card manufacturers and flower shops — a cynical ploy to make the nation spend millions of dollars each year on greetings cards and flowers. However, the roots of the holiday are more elevated than this and go back much further, right back to the times of the ancient Greeks and Romans.
Historians believe that the earliest celebration of Mother's Day was the ancient springtime festivals in Greece and Rome, dedicated to the mother goddesses, Rhea and Cybele.
In England “Mothering Sunday", similar to Mother's Day is observed on the fourth Sunday in Lent. It is believed that the early church adapted the ancient celebrations, to venerate the Mother of Christ, Mary. In the 1600's Mothering Sunday was one day of the year that all young men and girls who were working away from home as servants and laborers could return home to visit their mothers, attend church with them, bringing with them small gifts.
It is Anna M. Jarvis of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania who is credited with being the inventor of modern day Mother's Day in the USA. Her mother, who was also called Anna Jarvis, used to hold an annual gathering called “Mother’s Friendship Day" that was intended to celebrate peace and to heal the pain of the Civil War. After her mother died in 1905, Anna campaigned for the establishment of an official Mother’s Day to commemorate her mother's work. In 1908 the first Mother's Day celebration was held at the West Virginia Church, where the elder Anna Jarvis had been a Sunday School teacher for over 20 years. Each son, daughter and mother present wore white carnations to symbolize the sweetness, purity and endurance of a mothers love. Over time, red carnations became the symbol of a living mother, with white carnations signifying that one's mother has died.
In 1914, President Woodrow signed a bill recognizing Mother's Day as a National Holiday to be celebrated each year on the second Sunday in May. Anna Jarvis had envisioned Mother's Day as a religious holiday, to be observed by attending Church, but, much to her disgust, it became more and more commercialized with the sending of cards, gifts and flowers instead. It is said that before she died in1948 she confessed that she regretted having started the Mother's Day tradition. Ironically, she remained childless, but each Mother's Day she would receive thousands of cards.
The second Sunday of May is the most popular day of the year in the USA to dine out, and telephone lines are at their busiest. Mother's Day has become the third-largest card-sending holiday and Americans collectively send around 150 million Mother's Day cards and spend an average of $100 on Mother's Day activities each year. In recent years the face of Mothers Day has changed and the greeting card companies have adapted to this change. You can now find cards suitable for single and divorced mothers, for stepmothers, foster mothers and caregivers. If you look hard enough you might even find one from the cat to mom.
Janice Kaye is the operator of Biblical-Gifts. Com, an online shop that specializes in exclusive hand-crafted products, made out of flowers & fruits grown in the land of the Bible. They also offer a selection of the best Christian gifts and souvenirs made in the Holy Land.