The Story of Mother's Day
The United States celebrates Mother's Day on the second Sunday in May. Mother's Day was loosely inspired by the British day and was imported by social activist Julia Ward Howe after the American Civil War. Howe failed in her attempt to get formal recognition of Mother's Day. Her idea was influenced by Ann Jarvis, a young Appalachian homemaker who, starting in 1858, had attempted to improve sanitation through what she called Mothers' Work Days. She organized women throughout the Civil War to work for better sanitary conditions for both sides, and in 1868 she began work to reconcile Union and Confederate neighbors.
When Jarvis died in 1907, her daughter, Anna Reese Jarvis, started the crusade to found a memorial day for women. Anna never forgot that her mother once told her, "I hope and pray that someone, sometime, will found a memorial mother's day. There are many days for men, but none for mothers."
The first such Mother's Day was celebrated in Grafton, West Virginia, on May 10, 1908, in the church where the elder Ann Jarvis had taught Sunday School. Originally the Andrews Methodist Episcopal Church, this building is now the International Mother's Day Shrine (a National Historic Landmark). From there, the custom caught on — spreading eventually to 45 states. The holiday was declared officially by some states beginning in 1912. In 1914 President Woodrow Wilson declared the first national Mother's Day, "as a public expression of our love and reverence for the mothers of our country."
Today's Mother's Day is a celebration of motherhood in all its myriad forms, encompassing grandmothers, stepmothers and adoptive mothers. Mothers-to-be and new mothers are especially touched by gifts celebrating their new status.
Mothering Sunday, also called "Mothers' Day" in the United Kingdom and Ireland falls on the fourth Sunday of Lent (exactly three weeks before Easter Sunday). It is believed to have originated from the 16th century Christian practice of visiting one's mother church annually, which meant that most mothers would be reunited with their children on this day. Most historians believe that young apprentices and young women in servitude were released by their masters that weekend in order to visit their families. As a result of secularization, it is now principally used to celebrate and give thanks for mothers, although it is still recognized in the historical sense by some churches, with attention paid to Mary the mother of Jesus as well as the traditional concept 'Mother Church'.
Mothering Sunday can fall at earliest on March 1st (in years when Easter Day falls on March 22nd) and at latest on April 4th (when Easter Day falls on April 25th).
In most countries, Mother's Day is a new concept copied from western civilization. In many African countries, the idea of one Mother's Day has its origins in copying the British concept, although there are many festivals and events celebrating mothers within the many diverse cultures on the African continent that have been there centuries before the colonials arrived. In most of East Asia, Mother's Day is a heavily marketed and commercialized concept copied straight from Mother's Day in the USA.
Mother's Day is celebrated on different days throughout the world. Examining the trends in Google searches for the term "mother's day" shows two major blips, the smaller one on the fourth Sunday in Lent (it is also called ladies day and women's day), and the larger one on the second Sunday in May.