Anna Jarvis of West Virginia (History.com5.2018) in 1868 developed the Mother’s Friendship Day. This group of mothers organized to work with soldiers, both union and confederate, to help bring about reconciliation after the civil war. In 1908, Anna Jarvis’s daughter, Anna Reeves Jarvis initiated a letter-writing campaign to have Mother’s Day become an official holiday. In 1910 West Virginia became the first state to recognize the holiday. By 1914 Mother’s Day became an official U.S. holiday.
However, the idea of recognizing mothers is not a new idea. Celebrating the bond between mothers and children can be traced back to the ancient Egyptians and Romans. These cultures devised pagan celebrations to honor the goddesses Rhea and Cybele. The most popular Christian festival for more modern times is known as “Mothering Sunday.” This tradition was held in the UK and Europe on the 4th Sunday in Lent and was a time for the faithful to return to their “mother church” – the main church in the vicinity of their home.
Over time this tradition changed to a more secular holiday where children presented flowers and other tokens to their own mothers to express their love and appreciation. This custom around the 1930’s and 1940’s morphed into the U.S. commercial celebration of American Mother’s Day.
Even though Anna Reeves Jarvis initiated a campaign to recognize Mother’s Day, she denounced the commercialism of the day and spent the latter part of her life trying to rid the celebration of its’ commercial aspect. She intended the day to be an intimate affair between mother and child where children would spend time composing a personal letter expressing their heartfelt feeling for her dedication and nurturing. As we can see, commercialism may have won the day.
Whether your mother lives next door, many miles away or no longer inhabits this earth take a few minutes to reflect on what your life would be like without a mother. When you’re finished give your mom a call and wish her a “Happy Mother’s Day.” A personal phone call or a heartfelt, handwritten note is far more appreciated than a commercially purchased, computer printed card.
Joyce K. (Gatschenberger) Walters M.S., C.D., B.S.N., R.N. Linesoflisteningblog.wordpress.com linesoflistening.com