History of Mother’s Day

By Aisha Mir

It’s that time of the year where we appreciate all the mothers who were unable to live to see their kids, who have strained relationships with their family, who cannot see their children, and who are blessed enough to have a family to celebrate with. In North America, Mother’s Day is observed every year on the second Sunday of May. Other countries may celebrate on a different day. This celebration is influenced by a practice during the Middle Ages where people who were away from home were allowed to visit their mothers on the fourth day of Lent, which was known as Laetare Sunday. In Britain, this later evolved into Mothering Sunday, which was later replaced by Mother’s Day. There are also early signs of Mother’s Day through the celebration of mothers and motherhood by the Greeks and Romans by honouring their mother goddesses, Rhea and Cybele. Additionally, Christians held a festival known as “Mothering Sunday”.

The date commemorated began with a change made by Anna Jarvis, a woman who lived in Philadelphia. Her mother used to gather women’s groups together to promote values such as friendship and health. On Sunday May 12, 1907, Anna had held a memorial service in a church that belonged to her mother. Anna sought for this day to become a holiday because many celebrations were tailored towards celebrating the talents of men and not women. She wrote many letters to newspapers and politicians, urging for Mother’s Day to be seen as a reality. Five years later, every state across the U.S. observed this day which led to President Woodrow Wilson to declare this day a national holiday, prior to the start of WWI. The custom created to commemorate one’s mother was to wear a white carnation, however, that practice evolved into wearing white for a deceased mother and pink or red for a living mother. Soon the holiday was extended to aunts and grandmothers. With people starting to use this day as a way to profit off of this celebration and take advantage of the marketability, Anna was against it and attempted to abolish the holiday that she essentially created. To do this, she started a campaign that spoke out against those who profited off Mother’s Day such as florists, confectioners, and some charities. Groups who had used the word “Mother’s Day” were up against Anna in a lawsuit. Much of her wealth was used up in fighting legal battles. Anna believed that the holiday’s meaning had changed since cards, flowers, and treats were incorporated in commemorating mothers. 

Today, the true meaning of Mother’s Day should not be forgotten in an attempt to buy your mother’s happiness. Mothers should be commemorated every day for their hard work and should always have a support system. Make the most of the day by offering to spend time. The materialistic things will eventually disappear in this world, but not the cherished memories. This Mother’s Day, we send prayers out to all families, and hope they are able to spend this Sunday happily.


Mazza, EliseHistory of Mother’s Day