Ancient Traditions Behind Mothers Day Holiday

The earliest Mother's Day celebrations are traced back to the spring celebrations of ancient Greece in honor of Rhea, the Mother of the Gods.

During the 1600's, England celebrated a day called "Mothering Sunday," celebrated on the 4th Sunday of Lent, honoring the mothers of England. During this time many of the England's poor worked as servants for the wealthy. As most jobs were located far from their homes, the servants would live at the houses of their employers. On Mothering Sunday the servants would have the day off and were encouraged to return home and spend the day with their mothers. A special mothering cake was often brought along to provide a festive touch.

As Christianity spread throughout Europe the celebration changed to honor the "Mother Church" - the spiritual power that gave them life and protected them from harm. Over time the church festival blended with the Mothering Sunday celebration. People honored both their mothers and the church.

In the United States, Mother's Day was first suggested in 1872 by Julia Ward Howe as a day dedicated to peace. In 1907 Ana Jarvis, from Philadelphia, began a campaign to establish a national Mother's Day. Jarvis persuaded her mother's church in Grafton, West Virginia to celebrate Mother's Day on the second anniversary of her mother's death, the 2nd Sunday of May. By the next year Mother's Day was also celebrated in Philadelphia.

Jarvis and her supporters began to write to ministers, businessman and politicians in their quest to establish a national Mother's Day. It was successful; by 1911 Mother's Day was celebrated in almost every state. President Woodrow Wilson, in 1914, made the official announcement proclaiming Mother's Day a national holiday that was to be held each year on the second Sunday of May.

While many countries of the world celebrate their own Mother's Days at different times throughout the year, there are some countries, such as Denmark, Finland, Italy, Turkey, Australia and Belgium, which also celebrate Mother's Day that same day.