Photo courtesy of Karen Balvin, Sunlitway Photography
Mother’s Day dates back to ancient Greece where spring celebrations and religious festivals were held in honor of Rhea, the Mother of the Gods. In Rome, people held a festival as a tribute to goddess Magna Mater (Great Mother) in as early as 250 B.C. Both Greek and Roman cultures worshipped mother goddesses in various festivals.
In England, 17th century Christians held a feast to honor Mary, the mother of Jesus Christ. Eventually, a religious order expanded the scope of this holiday to include all mothers in England. Since then, the holiday named Mothering Sunday has been held every fourth Sunday of Lent.
In the United States, Anna Jarvis is credited for starting the celebration of Mother’s Day. Her inspiration for passionately promoting the holiday came from her mother, who raised 11 children. During the second week of May two years after her mother’s death, Jarvis asked her mother’s parish to celebrate Mother’s Day. She also started a campaign that sought to establish a holiday to honor both living and dead mothers, hoping that it would reinforce family ties and increase respect for mothers. Her dream became a reality on May 8, 1914 when U.S. President Woodrow Wilson proclaimed a national holiday for honoring mothers to be held every second Sunday of May.