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All I can say is wow! Who knew that the celebration of mother had such a history… with Mother’s day this weekend I decided to take a look back in time and see where Mother’s day began. I didn’t expect it to date back as far as it did, but why not? Creating a life is the one miracle we can all participate in within our lifetimes and women have that power, how amazing is that? So of course the women who are fortunate enough to have been given the gift of children should be celebrated. As the blog says, why not take pen to paper and write your mother a letter telling her how grateful you are for everything she has done for you and maybe even pick some wildflowers for her on your way to see her this Sunday. (Just don’t pick your neighbours flowers as my daughter would be apt to do…) Whatever you do, make sure its coming from your heart… enjoy this blog, I hope you find it as interesting as I did. And Happy Mother’s Day!

All over the world, children young and old, celebrate Mother’s Day in different ways. Believe it or not, it dates back to the ancient Egyptians who held an annual celebration to honour the goddess Isis. Greeks followed with a celebration in honour of Rhea and Romans did the same, honouring mother goddess Cybele. Early Christians celebrated the Virgin Mary on the fourth Sunday of Lent and by the sixteenth century, it had become established as a Christian celebration of the mother church where they had been baptized. Wherever people found themselves on that day, they would return to the mother church for a special service of thanksgiving. It was referred to as ‘a-mothering’ which became in some countries, Mothering Sunday. Years later it became the day that domestic servants were given a day off to visit their own family and because this usually involved a very long and difficult journey, they would be given the entire day off. On that day they would pick wild flowers to give to their mother and this tradition of giving flowers still continues today.

When the first English settlers arrived in the US, they continued to celebrate Mothering Sunday but it was adopted as a theme by Julia Ward Howe in 1870 with her Mother’s Day Proclamation after the Civil War to protest about what she referred to as ‘the futility of their sons killing the sons of other mothers’. She called for an International Mother’s Day celebrating peace and motherhood.

In 1908 the idea was adopted by Anna Jarvis who held a memorial for her mother Ann Jarvis who was the founder of Mother’s Day Work Clubs all over the US. These work clubs were created to teach local women how to properly care for their children. Infant mortality was high and she fought to improve sanitary conditions in order to fight disease and milk contamination. The first memorial was held on May 10th. By 1914 this memorial had become a recognized holiday in her honour. Her mother’s favourite flower was the carnation and still today this is the flower associated with Mother’s Day in the US and Canada. However, the celebration soon lost its association with Ann Jarvis and became the commercialized holiday we recognize today, much to the disgust of Anna and her sister Ellsinore who were arrested for disturbing the peace on what was now called ‘Mother’s Day’. They objected to the way confectioners and florists profited from the holiday and even campaigned to have it removed from the American calendar in 1948. Jarvis said that greetings cards were “a poor excuse for the letter you are too lazy to write.”

You will find the International Mother’s Day shrine in the church at Grafton, West Virginia where Jarvis lived. The reason the celebration is called Mother’s Day is because it celebrated Anna’s mother, not mothers in general. It continues to be a celebration of one’s own mother.

“For Jarvis it was a day where you’d go home to spend time with your mother and thank her for all that she did,” said historian Katharine Antolini of West Virginia Wesleyan College.”It wasn’t to celebrate all mothers. It was to celebrate the best mother you’ve ever known—your mother—as a son or a daughter.” That’s why Jarvis stressed the singular “Mother’s Day,” rather than the plural “Mothers’ Day,” Antolini explained.

Mother’s Day is celebrated in various ways and on different days all over the world and remains to this day, an opportunity for children to show their love and appreciation for the sacrifices made by their own mother. Sadly Jarvis never became a mother herself.

Anna Jarvis