History of Mother's Day

Claudine Zap
ParentingMay 10, 2012

Mark your calendars: This Sunday, May 13, is Mother's Day. And contrary to popular belief, the holiday did not rise up from the corporate brain trust of Hallmark and FTD florists. The day to celebrate mom has ancient roots.

The day can be traced to ancient Greece, which honored Rhea, mother of the gods, with offerings of honey cake, drinks, and flowers at dawn. The Romans built a temple for the mother of the gods, Magna Mater (Great Mother), and the Festival of Hilaria called for gifts to be brought to the temple to please the goddess.

In 17th-century England, early Christians reserved a day to honor Mary, the mother of Christ. By a later religious order all mothers began to be honored, and the day was christened "Mothering Sunday."

The holiday came to America when, in 1907, grateful daughter Anna Jarvis held a church service on May 12 in West Virginia to honor her late mother's work promoting women's groups for friendship and health. Within five years, almost every state was observing the day, and in 1914, President Woodrow Wilson declared it a national holiday.

According to History.com, the tradition of buying flowers on Mother's Day started with wearing carnations to honor moms -- white for a mother who had passed, and red or pink for the living -- and grew to be a more retail event involving cards and gifts. Jarvis, who felt the commercialization did not fit the spirit of the day, spent the last years of her life trying to abolish the holiday she had started.

But the spoiling of the matriarch has stuck, with moms still getting wined and dined on their special Sunday.

Meet the Trailblazing Ladies of Science

Artists Are Taking Over Gucci for 24 Hours

Access up to $50K Cash with a Home Equity Loan!

If you have equity in your home and need cash now, you may be eligible for up to $50K w/ a home equity line of credit. Rates at 3.57% APR. Start here.

Cher Fans Mourning

Cher fans were upset over the confusing hashtag mix-up that occurred on Twitter.

Impressive Driving Range

Go the distance in America’s longest-lasting pickups with an impressive driving range and capability to spare.

Need renters insurance? Get your quote here.

Amica Insurance offers renters discounts, plus the industry’s best service. Protect your possessions and get 24/7 support. Click for a free quote.

Reach Your Potential With Capella

Choose from over 50 degree programs and 50 certificate programs built to help you achieve your academic goals. Apply today!

Grand Opening! New Planned Community Near Urbana

More space. Less Congestion. Big amenities. Single-family homes at Landsdale, an amenity-rich community in Monrovia, MD. From the low $400s.