As usual, the celebration has pagan roots. The Greeks and Romans held festivals to honor the mother goddesses Rhea and Cybele.
The modern Mother’s Day is tide to an early Christian festival known as “Mothering Sunday.” In the UK and parts of Europe, this celebration fell on the fourth Sunday in Lent and was originally seen as a time when the faithful would return to their “mother church” for a special service. Mothering Sunday transitioned a secular holiday with children giving presents to their mothers.
During the Civil War, Ann Reeves Jarvis of West Virginia helped start “Mothers’ Day Work Clubs” to teach local women how to properly care for their children. These clubs began celebrating “Mothers’ Friendship Day” after the war ended.
The official Mother’s Day holiday was staterred by Anna Jarvis, daughter of Ann Reeves Jarvis, who died in 1905.
Anna Jarvis conceived of Mother’s Day as a way of honoring the sacrifices mothers made for their children.
The first official Mother’s Day celebration was at a Methodist church in Grafton, West Virginia in 1908. The event was also promoted by John Wanamaker, a department store owner. Wannemacher held a Mother's Day event the same day at one of his stores in Philadelphia.
Jarvis worked hard to the holiday added to the national calendar. In 1914 President Woodrow Wilson established the second Sunday in May as Mother’s Day.
Jarvis' original idea was a day of personal celebration between mothers and families. Her version of the day involved wearing a white carnation as a badge and visiting one’s mother or attending church services.
But once Mother’s Day became a national holiday, it was not long before florists, card companies and others capitalized on its popularity. In 1920 Jarvis began a campaign against the commercialzation of the holiday she helped to create.
Mother’s Day is now one of the biggest holidays for consumer spending.
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