Mother’s Day Is Coming – But Where’d It Come From?

The hallowed day of motherhood is almost upon us once more. Every 2nd Sunday of May, Americans join in the long-standing tradition of honoring their Moms.

In fact, celebrating one day a year that is set aside just to recognize the most important woman in every child’s life, and we’re all still her children in case she hasn’t reminded you of that lately, is an international celebration; not just an American holiday. It’s celebrated in most other countries as well, but sometimes in different months. But how did Mother’s Day first get started?

The idea for Mother’s Day probably originated some 6,000 years or more ago during Pagan rituals and festivals surrounding the idea of Mother Goddess, or Mother Earth. Generally Mother Goddess represents fertility and the bounty of the Earth. Even as far back as 24,000 BCE, archeologists have recovered figurines shaped in the likeness of pregnant females, who apparently played a role in fertility rites in a period of time that relied on the skills of hunters to provide meat for wandering tribes. Of course Mom was the central figure there because without her, there wouldn’t be enough hunters to provide food to sustain them.

Around 10,000 BCE the hunter gatherers turned to agriculture and so they made offerings to Mother Earth to provide sufficient rain for their crops. Fertility rites were extended to include celebrations in expectation of bountiful food and then again after the harvest. Celebrating fertility has spanned every civilization on Earth in fact; and from Kings to peasants. From the hope of an heir to the throne, to simply praying for more hands on the plow, mothers have filled the cradle for mankind. It’s quite an honor society to be part of really.

In the United States, Mother’s Day was officially recognized as a national holiday on May 8th 1914. It had been a culmination of the work and dedication of a number of women, but is mostly attributed to Anna Jarvis, whose own mother had organized Mother’s Day Work Clubs to tend to wounded soldiers after the Civil War. This led to anti-war demonstrations by mothers who had also lost husbands and sons during the war.

Anna’s mother died in 1905 and never saw her dedication to the merits of motherhood realized. But her daughter Anna saw it through and today, we celebrate Mother’s Day in her honor, but also as a symbol to motherhood everywhere.

Want to know what the traditional flower is for Mother’s Day in case you needed to scoot over to the local florist in time to grab a bouquet for Mom? It’s the Carnation. The tradition dates back to 1908, again to Anna Jarvis, who gave away Carnations, her mother’s favorite flower,  for people to wear in their hats, or lapels – a red Carnation if your mother was living and a white one if she wasn’t.

Americans spend almost 2 billion dollars a year on Mother’s Day for flowers and almost a billion and a half on various pampering gifts; with greeting card sales numbering nearly a 100 million in annual sales. So splurge a little! And now you know where Mother’s Day comes from.


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