Mother’s Day is a celebration honouring the mother of the family, as well as motherhood, maternal bonds, and the influence of mothers in society.
It is celebrated on various days in many parts of the world, most commonly in the months of March or May.
The modern Mother’s Day began in the United States, at the initiative of Anna Jarvis in the early 20th century.
The modern holiday of Mother’s Day was first celebrated in 1908, when Anna Jarvis held a memorial for her mother at St Andrew’s Methodist Church in Grafton, West Virginia. St Andrew’s Methodist Church now holds the International Mother’s Day Shrine.
Her campaign to make Mother’s Day a recognized holiday in the United States began in 1905, the year her mother, Ann Reeves Jarvis, died. Ann Jarvis had been a peace activist who cared for wounded soldiers on both sides of the American Civil War, and created Mother’s Day Work Clubs to address public health issues. Anna Jarvis wanted to honor her mother by continuing the work she started and to set aside a day to honor all mothers because she believed a mother is “the person who has done more for you than anyone in the world”.
In 1908, the U.S. Congress rejected a proposal to make Mother’s Day an official holiday, joking that they would also have to proclaim a “Mother-in-law’s Day”. However, owing to the efforts of Anna Jarvis, by 1911 all U.S. states observed the holiday, with some of them officially recognizing Mother’s Day as a local holiday (the first being West Virginia, Jarvis’ home state, in 1910). In 1914, Woodrow Wilson signed a proclamation designating Mother’s Day, held on the second Sunday in May, as a national holiday to honor mothers.
In 1912 Anna Jarvis trademarked the phrase “Second Sunday in May, Mother’s Day, Anna Jarvis, Founder”, and created the Mother’s Day International Association. She specifically noted that “Mother’s” should “be a singular possessive, for each family to honor its own mother, not a plural possessive commemorating all mothers in the world.” This is also the spelling used by U.S. President Woodrow Wilson in his 1914 presidential proclamation, by the U.S. Congress in relevant bills, and by various U.S. presidents in their proclamations concerning Mother’s Day.
The day is not (directly) related to the many traditional celebrations of mothers and motherhood that have existed throughout the world over thousands of years, such as the Greek cult to Cybele, Rhea the Great Mother of the Gods, the Roman festival of Hilaria, or the Christian Mothering Sunday celebration (originally a commemoration of Mother Church, not motherhood). However, in some countries, Mother’s Day is still synonymous with these older traditions.
In the Roman Catholic Church, the holiday is strongly associated with revering the Virgin Mary. In some Catholic homes, families have a special shrine devoted to the Blessed Virgin Mary. In many Eastern Catholic and Eastern Orthodox Churches, a special prayer service is held in honor of the Theotokos Virgin Mary
In Islam there is no concept of Mother’s Day, but the Quran teaches that children should give priority to loving their mother over their father.
In Hindu tradition, Mother’s Day is called “Mata Tirtha Aunshi” or “Mother Pilgrimage fortnight”, and is celebrated in countries with a Hindu population, especially in Nepal, where mothers are honored with special foods. The holiday is observed on the new moon day in the month of Baisakh, i.e., April/May. This celebration is based on Hindu religion and it pre-dates the creation of the US-inspired celebration by at least a few centuries.
In Buddhism, the festival of Ullambana is derived from the story of Maudgalyayana and his mother
In India, the modern Mother’s Day has been assimilated into Indian culture and is celebrated every year on the second Sunday of May. Indians do not celebrate the occasion as a religious event; its celebration is mostly restricted to urban areas where the occasion has been largely commercialized
Although Jarvis was successful in founding Mother’s Day, she became resentful of the commercialization of the holiday.
By the early 1920s, Hallmark Cards and other companies had started selling Mother’s Day cards. Jarvis believed that the companies had misinterpreted and exploited the idea of Mother’s Day, and that the emphasis of the holiday was on sentiment, not profit. As a result, she organized boycotts of Mother’s Day, and threatened to issue lawsuits against the companies involved.
Jarvis argued that people should appreciate and honor their mothers through handwritten letters expressing their love and gratitude, instead of buying gifts and pre-made cards. Jarvis protested at a candy makers’ convention in Philadelphia in 1923, and at a meeting of American War Mothers in 1925.
By this time, carnations had become associated with Mother’s Day, and the selling of carnations by the American War Mothers to raise money angered Jarvis, who was arrested for disturbing the peace