Go deep into recorded history and you will find that one of the oldest celebrations was that in honor of Mothers. The earliest that can be identified was in ancient Greece during their Spring celebrations. This day started in honor of Rhea, the Mother of the Gods.
Then in the early 1600's England began celebrating "Mothering Sunday", a day to honor the more "down-to-earth mothers" the ones we all have and love. This day was celebrated on the fourth Sunday in Lent.
England, at that time had two very distinct classes of people - the very rich and the very poor. It was not uncommon for the poor to live in the homes of the wealthy so that they could be available to work for them 24 hours a day.
On Mothering Sunday the servants were given the day off and encouraged to go home and spend the day with their mothers. A special cake, called The Mothering Cake was often made and used to create a festive atmosphere. (Click for the recipe for this cake)
As you will see, times were very different then, and what the poor servants of England "threw together" for their mothers would today be a very elaborate, elegant and not inexpensive dessert.
As Christianity became more prevalent in Europe the celebration changed and it now honored "Mother Church". As it does with all mothers, the notion of Mother Church was one of comfort, power and protection. The Church festival eventually blended with Mothering Sunday and the Church and the human mother were both honored.
Julia Ward Howe, author of the lyrics of The Battle Hymn of the Republic, was the first to suggest Mother's Day in the United States. In 1872 she suggested the day as a dedication to mothers and peace, since no mother wants to see her son at war. She faithfully held organized Mother's Day meetings every year in Boston.
Ana Jarvis of Philadelphia began a campaign, in 1907, to establish Mother's Day as a national holiday. She persuaded her late mother's church in Grafton, West Virginia to celebrate the day on the anniversary of her mother's death, the 2nd Sunday in May.
By the next year, Philadelphia also started the celebration. A successful letter writing campaign began. After all, what businessman or politician wanted to come out against Mothers! By 1911 Mother's Day was celebrated in almost every state.
It became a national holiday in 1914 when President Woodrow Wilson officially made the 2nd Sunday in May, Mother's Day. Most countries have one day set aside to honor mothers. A number of countries, such as Denmark, Australia, Belgium, Turkey, Finland and Italy, also celebrate Mother's Day on the 2nd Sunday in May.
In 1915, Howard Johnson wrote the famous poem, later put to music. It spells out some of the wonders of our mothers.
"M" is for the million things she gave me,
"O" means only that she's growing old,
"T" is for the tears she shed to save me,
"H" is for her heart of purest gold;
"E" is for her eyes, with love-light shining,
"R" means right, and right she'll always be,
Put them all together, they spell
A word that means the world to me.
Don't miss Lessons my Mom taught me
A humorous look at Mothers
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