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News >> History of Mother's Day

The Roots of Mother's Day

Mother's day is celebrated on the second Sunday in May and is set aside to honor our Moms. But how did this holiday come to be. In the United States there it was imported from the British holiday called Mothering Sunday and celebrated as part of the 4th Sunday of Lent. In the 16th century children once a year on Mothering Sunday would go to mother's church which reunited parents with their children that day. Although there was little documentation it was believed these children were working for someone and away from home. Some were woman who were slaves and this was the one day of the year that they could return home and see their families.

Despite the fact that the holiday is now secular, there are churches that go back to the Christian roots of the holiday and pay homage to Mary, Our Spiritual Mother. May is also designated by the church as a month devoted to Mary and extra attention is paid to Mary. There are definitely Christian roots in this holiday though.

The holiday was imported to the United states by Julia Ward Howe after the civil war. Howe is a well know social activist and was an American Abolitionist. But her most famous accomplishment is the penning of the Battle Hymn of the Republic. In 1870 Howe wrote the Mothers day Proclamation and it was one of the early mentions to celebrate Mother's Day in the United States. The proclamation is is still included in a Unitarian Hymn. She encouraged this holiday because of her displeasure with the Civil War and the death and hardship woman had to endure. And it was also her basic tenant that woman needed to step up and help shape the society on all levels including the political level.

Her idea for mother's day was inspired by Ann Jarvis who was trying to improve sanitation at work. She called her crusade Mothers Work Days. She was able to get women during the Civil War to work towards better sanitation conditions. When Ann Jarvis died her Daughter, Anna Jarvis worked to getting a memorial day for women started and was successful in Grafton West Virginia. On May 10ths 1908 the first Mothers Day was held. It was in the church that Ann Jarvis had taught. Originally it was a Andrews Methodist Episcopal Church. Now the building is the International Mother's Day Shrine and a National Historic Landmark. The other 45 states also began celebrating this holiday and in 1914 Woodrow Wilson declared the first Nation Mothers day for Mothers whose sons had died in World War I.

Ironically the young lady who wanted to honor her own mother and started the whole concept was so upset with the commercialization of the holiday that she started to become an opponent to it. However, Mothers Day continues to be one of the most successful US holidays. It is a great opportunity to get your mom a Mother's Day Gift to thank her for being your Mom. 

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