Everyone has one, and few can deny that the most cherished figure in a person’s life is their mother.
Bill Day’s latest observes Mother’s Day, a holiday honoring maternity in all of its forms — especially our own Mother Earth, mother to us all.
Held in the U.S. on Sunday, Mother’s Day is a holiday with a history as interesting and diverse as its subject matter.
According to the History Channel, the American version of Mother’s Day began with social activist Anna Jarvis. On May 10, 1908, three years after the death of her mother, Jarvis held a memorial ceremony that is widely credited as the first official observance of Mother’s Day.
In the following years, Jarvis spearheaded the campaign for broad recognition of “Mother’s Day,” which became an official U.S. holiday in 1914 by President Woodrow Wilson.
Ironically, Jarvis – critical of the over commercialization of Mother’s Day – spent much of her later life trying to remove her creation from the calendar.
The dates may vary worldwide, but Mother’s Day is usually held on the second Sunday in May, with a celebration that includes flowers (often carnations), cards and gifts.
Despite the holiday’s relatively recent history, mothers and motherhood have long been fêted, tracing back to the ancient Greeks and Romans, who held jubilees honoring mother goddesses Rhea and Cybele. In the Roman Catholic Church, Mother’s Day is strongly associated with venerating the Virgin Mary.
A more direct ancestor of the modern Mother’s Day is “Mothering Sunday,” an early Christian festival in parts of Europe and the United Kingdom. That holiday, unrelated to today’s Mother’s Day, was held on the fourth Sunday in Lent, and was seen as a time for the faithful return to “mother church”— the church of their home village — for special celebratory services.
Later, Mothering Sunday evolved into a more secular festivity, with children giving flowers and other tokens of gratitude. After years of declining popularity, the celebration merged with American Mother’s Day in the 1930s and 1940s.