The History of Mother’s Day

mothers day lettering with branches, swirls, flowers and quoteWhile mothers and motherhood are celebrated in different ways all across the world, Mother’s Day in America commonly falls on the second Sunday in May each year.

Mother’s Day: Early Beginnings

The earliest celebrations of motherhood can be traced to the ancient Romans and Greeks, who held festivals for their goddesses Cybele and Rhea. For some time, a popular festival called “Mothering Sunday” was celebrated in the Christian community. During the holiday, faithful
Christians would return to the church of their home,
or “mother church” for a special service.

19th Century Roots

In 1870, suffragette Julia Ward Howe wrote a call to action called the “Mother’s Day Proclamation”. In the proclamation, Howe asked that all mothers join together to promote world peace. She proposed that “Mother’s Peace Day” be celebrated each year on June 2nd. While many worked with her to help the holiday come to fruition, the Mother’s Day holiday as we know it started a few years earlier with the help of a woman named Ann Reeve Jarvis.

Jarvis began an organization prior to the Civil War to help teach women proper child care. After the war broke out, the club meetings transformed into a support effort that helped to unify a divided country. “Mother’s Friendship Day” was a holiday used to help gather soldiers and promote reconciliation.

The Turn of the Century

Many years later, in 1905, when Jarvis’s mother died, she proposed Mother’s Day as a holiday where children and family members could honor the sacrifices of their mothers. She believed that there were already too many holidays dedicated to the honor of men, and felt it was necessary that women joined the ranks as well.

By 1912, many towns and states had accepted Mother’s Day as an annual holiday. From there, Jarvis felt it was necessary to petition for the celebration to be turned into a national holiday. Just two years later, in 1914, Woodrow Wilson made it so. Unfortunately, Jarvis’s joy was short lived. Not long after Mother’s Day was established as a national holiday, the floral, candy, and card industries began capitalizing on the holiday’s popularity as a way to bring in profits. Furious that the holiday had been commercialized, Jarvis spent the later part of her life denouncing the holiday that she had worked so hard to create less than ten years prior.

Today, Mother’s Day continues to be celebrated as a day to honor one’s mother, and is often used as a time for families to connect. In fact, there are more phone calls placed on Mother’s Day than any other day of the year!

For more interesting information about American history, traditional recipes, and local festivities, be sure to read our blog, or come by the Salem Cross Inn in West Brookfield, Massachusetts. Take a moment to step back in time to the 18th century, delight in our historic house and tavern, as well as our tasty seasonal dishes.