Happy Mother’s Day! From humble origins to big business, the story behind the holiday - Albuquerque Journal

Happy Mother’s Day! From humble origins to big business, the story behind the holiday

Cathryn Cunningham/Journal

Like many holidays and traditions, Mother’s Day has a long history. Long before the holiday we know today, the ancient Greeks and Romans held festivals in honor of the mother goddess Rhea and Cybele. More closely related to the present-day celebrations is the early Christian festival of “Mothering Sunday.” At one time it was a tradition in the United Kingdom and part of Europe for the faithful to return to their “mother church” for a special service. The tradition became less tied to religion and more of one of children giving gifts to their mothers.

Reading history gives real meaning to “has time ever changed,” “how things remain the same” and “learn from the past.” There are several women who contributed to how and why we celebrate Mother’s Day.

Fast forward to the 19th Century for the origins of Mother’s Day in the United States. Before the Civil War, Ann Reeves Jarvis helped start “Mothers’ Day Work Clubs” to teach women how to properly care for their children. In 1868 Jarvis organized “Mothers’ Friendship Day” for mothers to gather with former Union and Confederate soldiers to promote reconciliation.

Julia Ward Howe, abolitionist and suffragette, wrote the “Mother’s Day Proclamation” to ask mothers to unite in promoting world peace.

A national holiday

In the 1900s the Mother’s Day holiday came from the efforts of Anna Jarvis, daughter of Ann Reeves Jarvis, following the death of her mother. Anna Jarvis thought of Mother’s Day as a way to honor the sacrifices mothers make for their children.

Anna Jarvis gained the financial support of a Philadelphia department store owner, John Wanamaker, for the first official celebration in May 1908 at the Methodist church in Grafton, West Virginia. Thousands of people attended a Mother’s Day event at one of Wanamaker’s retail stores that day.

Wanting to see the holiday added to the national calendar, Anna Jarvis started a letter-writing campaign to newspapers and politicians urging the adoption of a special day to honor motherhood. One of her points was that American holidays had a bias toward male achievements. By 1912 many states, communities and churches had adopted Mother’s Day as an annual holiday. Jarvis’ persistence paid off in 1914 when President Woodrow Wilson signed a presidential proclamation establishing the second Sunday in May as Mother’s Day.

Turn to big business

Originally conceived as a personal celebration between mothers and families, it was not long before florists, card companies and other retailers capitalized on its popularity. Jarvis became disgusted with the commercialization of Mother’s Day and urged people to stop buying merchandise related to the holiday. She used her personal wealth to file countless lawsuits against groups using the name “Mother’s Day.” She also lobbied the government to remove the holiday.

Celebrating today

There are many options to choose from, tickets to reservations to gifts.

A search on the internet will find a variety of events including those linked to the early traditions of events at churches, theater, crafts to make a gift, and more.

  • Mother’s Day brunches are very popular. Pick her favorite or introduce something new.
  • BioPark Zoo with music and lessons about how animals raise their young.
  • Old Town Gazebo entertainment beginning at 1 p.m.
  • Placitas Studio Tour.
  • Book a spa treatment.
  • Book a massage.
  • Pick a chore mom hates and do it for her.
  • Schedule time for mom to do whatever she wants.

Credit to moms

Leaders often reflect on how their mothers influenced them. Think about awards and acceptance speeches. Many times, the honoree thanks their mother.

  • “All that I am or ever hope to be, I owe to my angel Mother.” – Abraham Lincoln
  • “My mother was the most beautiful woman I ever saw. All I am I owe to my mother. I attribute all my success in life to the moral, intellectual and physical education I received from her.” – George Washington
  • “I want to thank my mom who’s given me the strength to fight every single day to be who I want to be and to give me the courage to dream.” – Halle Berry

Fun Facts

  • More phone calls are made on Mother’s Day than any other day of the year, causing traffic to spike as much as 37%% – 120 million!
  • There are roughly 82.5 million mothers in the United States.
  • A mother’s voice lowers a child’s stress hormone and raises a hormone linked with love and bonding.

Source: history.com/topics/holidays/mothers-day

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