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History of Mother’s Day

By Samuel Cheng

Published 11:14 PDT, Fri May 12, 2023

Do you know which holiday is the busiest time of the year for restaurants and food vendors—the answer is Mother’s Day.

According to study conducted in 2019, Mother’s Day dine outs are not limited to dinner, but it can also be for lunch and breakfast as well. Aside from restaurants, other vendors like florists, gift shops and other retail businesses all see an increase in sales due to the wide range of customers that celebrate this particular holiday.

Mother’s Day, an old tradition that honors mothers and motherhood has been around for centuries. The earliest sign of Mother’s Day can be traced all the way back to the Ancient Romans and Greeks, where “Mothering Sunday” was celebrated to honor the Mother Goddesses of Rhea and Cybele. 

As time progresses, the Mothering Sunday tradition began to drop its religious connotation before eventually merging with the American Mother’s Day in the early 20th century. The American variation of the holiday is the one that most people celebrate today.

Going back to the 19th century, before the American Civil War, a woman by the name of Ann Reeves Jarvis started a Mother’s Day Work Club that aims to teach local women on the proper ways to take care of their children.

Despite the rampage of the Civil War, the club managed to stick together as one. In 1868, Jarvis organized a “Mothers’ Friendship Day” where women came together with Union and Confederate soldiers with the goal of promoting reconciliation.

If Ann Reeves Jarvis is the bricklayer, then her daughter, Anna Jarvis, is the one that escalated the century old holiday into a national holiday. Following the passing of Ann in 1905, Anna perceived Mother’s Day as a way of honoring the sacrifices that mothers have made for their children.

Three years later, Anna kickstarted the first official Mother’s Day celebration at a church located in West Virginia, United States. Thousands of people gathered and attended the event.

Following the huge success of the Mother’s Day event, Anna initiated and advocated for the holiday to be added to the national calendar as a majority of the American holidays were biased towards celebrating and honoring male achievements. 

Countless letters were addressed to the politicians and government officials before many states and towns began to adopt Mother’s Day as an annual celebration. Anna’s effort has paid off when U.S. President Woodrow Wilson formally established the second Sunday in May as Mother’s Day.

Since then, Mother’s Day has spread across the nation and to the countries oversea as well. Restaurants, florists, holiday card companies and other commercial businesses quickly caught onto the trend and saw it as an opportunity to expand their market and sales.

However, Anna was infuriated when she saw the holiday went from a personal celebration between mothers and families to becoming a commercialized holiday where merchants and business people used it as a method to make their money.

Anna went as far as launching lawsuits against groups and businesses that had used “Mother’s Day” to their financial advantage. Eventually, Anna disowned the holiday altogether in 1948.

Today, people around the world celebrate Mother’s Day in their own unique ways and twists. For example, Mother’s Day is celebrated on Aug. 12 in Thailand rather than in May. 

In Ethiopia, Mother’s Day is celebrated with the three-day Antrosht Festival where families would sing and dance while having a huge feast.

In Japan and Italy, children of the household would help out around house, whether that would be cooking the meals or doing the chores. 

Regardless of how someone chooses to honor and celebrate their Mother’s Day, the meaning behind it remains unchanged. Moms all around the world deserve to be appreciated and gratified as they are one of the most important and hardworking individuals that one would encounter.

Richmond Sentinel would like to wish all the mothers in Richmond to have a wonderful Mother’s Day.

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