Throughout the world many countries celebrate a form of Mother’s day in honour of their mothers. In Australia, the United States, Denmark, Finland, Italy, Turkey and Belgium it is celebrated on the second Sunday in May. In England Mother's Day is always the 4th Sunday of Lent, and the International Mother’s day is May 11th.
The first known form of Mother’s Day was the celebration held by the ancient Greeks in honour of Rhea, who was the mother of the gods, and who represented fertility. This celebration was held in spring which is, of course, the most fertile season of the year. In Rome celebrations also took place in spring when they worshipped Cybele. She too was a mother goddess. These celebrations can be dated from around 250BC.
Some centuries later we moved towards the modern style of honouring our mothers. In 17th century England we began to celebrate “Mothering Sunday”. Many of the poor worked as servants for wealthy families. They lived in at the home of their employers and rarely saw their own family. On Mothering Sunday the servants were entitled to a day off to spend with their families and their mothers were given gifts of cake which, not surprisingly, was called Mothering Cake. This took place in Lent which is traditionally a time where sweets, cakes and special treats are given up until Easter. Mothering Sunday was the only day during Lent that people could eat whatever they had given up so it was also known as Refreshment Sunday. This was a day of real celebrations.
In the United States Mother's Day was first suggested in 1872 by Julia Ward Howe (who wrote the words to the Battle hymn of the Republic) as a day dedicated to peace.
In 1907 Ana Jarvis, from Philadelphia, began a campaign to establish a national Mother's Day. Ms. Jarvis persuaded her mother's church in Grafton, West Virginia to celebrate Mother's Day on the second anniversary of her mother's death, the 2nd Sunday of May. By the next year Mother's Day was also celebrated in Philadelphia and by 1911 Mother’s day was celebrated in almost every state.
President Woodrow Wilson, in 1914, made the official announcement proclaiming Mother's Day as a national holiday that was to be held each year in the United States.
Modern Mother’s Day can be quite a commercial occasion and it is important to remember the real purpose behind it. Gifts are wonderful but the best gift that you can give your mother is your time. Visit her, or call her if you can’t be there in person. That will give her a truly wonderful Mother’s Day.