MiscellaneousAt each of our events, we always try to focus on the meaning of the occasion that brings us together. For example, during a recent Mother's Day Dinner, several readers explained how Mother's Day came about. Keep reading to find out more.
who came up with the idea of honoring mothers nation-wide on the second
Sunday in May?
historians claim that the predecessor of the Mother's Day holiday was the
ancient spring festival dedicated to mother goddesses. In the ancient
Greek empire the spring festival honored Rhea, wife of Cronus and mother
of the gods and goddesses. In Rome the most significant Mother's Day-like
festival was dedicated to the worship of Cybele, another mother goddess.
Ceremonies in her honor began some 250 years before Christ was born. This
Roman religious celebration, known as Hilaria, lasted for three days -
from March 15 to 18!
like the modern celebration of Mother's Day is England's "Mothering
Sunday", also called Mid-Lent Sunday, observed on the fourth Sunday
in Lent. Some say the ceremonies in honor of Cybele were adopted by the
early church to venerate the Mother of Christ, Mary. Others believe the
Mother Church was substituted for mother goddess and custom began to
dictate that a person visit the church of his/her baptism on this day.
People attended the mother church of their parish, laden with offerings.
in England in the 1600's, young men and women who were apprentices or
servants returned home on Mothering Sunday, bringing to their mothers
small gifts like trinkets or a "mothering cake". Sometimes furmety
was served - wheat grains boiled in sweet milk, sugared and spiced.
northern England and in Scotland, the preferred refreshments were carlings
- pancakes made of steeped pease fried in butter, with pepper and salt. In
fact, in some locations this day was called Carling Sunday.
kind of mothering cake was the simnel cake, a very rich fruit cake.
The Lenten fast dictated that the simnel cake had to keep until Easter. It
was boiled in water, then baked, and was often finished with an almond
icing. Sometimes the crust was of flour and water, colored with saffron.
Starts in the United States
M. Jarvis (1864-1948) is credited with originating our Mother's Day
holiday. She never married and was extremely attached to her mother, Mrs.
Anna Reese Jarvis. Mrs. Jarvis was a minister's daughter who for 20 years
taught Sunday School in the Andrews Methodist Church of Grafton, West
Virginia. Miss Jarvis graduated from the Female Seminary in Wheeling, West
Virginia, and taught in Grafton before moving to Philadelphia,
Pennsylvania, with the rest of her family.
Reese Jarvis died in Philadelphia in May of 1905. Still unmarried and left
alone with her blind sister Elsinore, Anna missed her mother greatly. Two
years after her mother's death (1907) Anna Jarvis and her friends began a
letter-writing campaign to gain the support of influential ministers,
businessmen and congressmen in declaring a national Mother's Day holiday.
She felt children often neglected to appreciate their mother enough while
the mother was still alive. She hoped Mother's Day would increase respect
for parents and strengthen family bonds.
First Mother's Day
first Mother's Day observance was a church service honoring Mrs. Anna
Reese Jarvis, held at Anna Jarvis's request in Grafton, West Virginia, and
in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, on May 10, 1908.
her mother's favorite flowers, were supplied at that first service by Miss
Jarvis. White carnations were chosen because they represented the
sweetness, purity and endurance of mother love. Red carnations, in time,
became the symbol of a living mother. White ones now signify that one's
mother has died.
Mother's Day Observances
first Mother's Day proclamation was issued by the governor of West
Virginia in 1910. Oklahoma celebrated Mother's Day that year as well. By
1911 every state had its own observances. By then other areas celebrating
Mother's Day included Mexico, Canada, China, Japan, South America and
Africa. The Mother's Day International Association was incorporated on
December 12, 1912, with the purpose of furthering meaningful observations
of Mother's Day.
House of Representatives in May, 1913, unanimously adopted a resolution
requesting the President, his Cabinet, members of Congress, and all
officials of the federal government to wear a white carnation on Mother's
Day. Congress passed another Joint Resolution May 8, 1914, designating the
second Sunday in May as Mother's Day. The U.S. flag is to be displayed on
government buildings and at people's homes "as a public expression of
our love and reverence for the mothers of our country." President
Woodrow Wilson issued the first proclamation making Mother's Day an
official national holiday.
If your mother is still alive, take care to shower her with special attention this Mother's Day. Visit her. Phone her. Send her a card. Give her flowers. Get her chocolates. Buy her something you know she's been wanting. But don't wait until after her funeral to let her know how much you've appreciated her! Wear your red (or otherwise-colored) carnation proudly.
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