Mother’s Day in its true sense is simply not about honouring a mother, it is more about celebrating motherhood and the maternal bonds that tie a family together. It is also about acknowledging a mother’s influence on her family and the role that she plays in society. It is an extension of similar joys that are experienced on Father’s Day or Grandparent’s Day.
Mother’s Day is not a recent phenomenon. It has been there for centuries. These included the Greek cult to Cybele, the Roman festival Hilaria and the Christian Mothering commemoration of Mother Church and not of motherhood per se. However, Mother’s Day in its present avatar is a comparatively recent phenomenon and came into being in the early 20th century.
Mother’s Day is a remembrance of Ann Reeves Jarvis who died in 1905. She was a peace activist and cared for soldiers who were injured on both sides of The American Civil War. Her daughter Anna Jarvis wanted to honour her mother and in 1908 held a memorial for her at Andrew’s Methodist Church in Grafton, West Virginia.
Her efforts to mark the day as a holiday was rejected by the United States Senate in 1908 but due to her persistent attempts, a few States began to observe Mother’s Day as a holiday by 2011. In 1914, Woodrow Wilson officially signed a proclamation designating the second Sunday of May as Mother’s Day in honour of all mothers.
Soon enough, the process of commercialization of Mother’s Day was off the blocks. By the early 1920’s Hallmark Cards and other companies had started selling Mother’s Day cards. Carnations too became an integral part of Mother’s Day celebrations and around 1925 the American War Mothers raised money by selling the flowers.
Anna Jarvis did not take kindly to this. She was angered by this form of business in the name of Mother’s Day and began to protest on various occasions around the country leading to her arrest at a convention for disturbing peace. It was her contention that a handwritten letter or note was more personal and reflected the true sentiments of motherhood.
Finally, this piece would not be complete without a few quotes on mothers.
God could not be everywhere and therefore he made mothers – A Jewish proverb.
I remember my mother’s prayers and they have always followed me. They have clung to me all my life – Abraham Lincoln.
The heart of a mother is a deep abyss at the bottom of which you will always find forgiveness – Balzac
These sentiments more or less sum it all up about mothers.