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Mother’s Day: History of her story

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momshistory1As we approach the 100th anniversary of the official adoption of Mother’s Day as a national holiday in the United States, let’s spell out the one person will all depended on throughout our lives: M-O-T-H-E-R.

M is for May, the Mother’s Day month

This Sunday, May 11, is Mother’s Day 2014. In the U.S., Canada and around 92 other nations the day for mom is celebrated on the second Sunday in May. It’s permanently May 8 in South Korea, and May 10 in Mexico, Guatemala and El Salvador. Sixteen other nations honor mothers on various other days in May, including 11, mostly French-speaking lands, that call the last Sunday in May Mother’s Day.

O is for the Origins of Mother’s Day

The ancient Greeks and Romans had festivals of motherhood and rituals that recognized mothers’ contribution to the world. The mother goddesses, Cybele and Rhea had special days of tribute. The more recent beginnings of the idea stem from a feast day from the very begins of Christianity called Mothering Sunday.

In the U.S., during and right after the war between the states, Ann Reeves Jarvis, a teacher in what is now West Virginia, started getting folks together to celebrate motherhood on what she called “Mother’s Friendship Day”. The idea was for both Union and Confederate mothers to meet and reconcile.

T is for the Traditions of Mother’s Day

Mothers have traditionally been honored on their day by being bestowed with flowers, cards, and candy. Taking mom out for brunch or a special dinner is a very popular tradition. Each American will spend an average of $163 on their moms in 2014, a total of nearly $20 billion. Part of that amount goes to buy 133 million Mother’s Day greeting cards, third most of any day of the year, after Christmas and Valentine’s Day.momshistory2

H is for Howe, Julia Ward Howe and her daughter, Anna Howe, the founders of Mother’s Day in America.

Abolitionist and women suffragette, Julia Ward Howe led a movement to proclaim June 2 as Mother’s Peace Day. Her daughter, Anna Jarvis, after the 1905 death of her mom, came up with the Mother’s Day we recognize today.

She led an effort to write letters to important politicians and newspapers requesting that a new holiday to honor mothers and motherhood be established. After years of effort, in 1912, Mother’s Day was being unofficially observed in many different areas of the country. Finally, in 1914, Woodrow Wilson, signed a bill making Mother’s Day a legal holiday on the second Sunday of May.

E is for Everywhere, Mother’s Day is celebrated in 172 different countries.momshistory3

A few examples include: Bolivia’s Mother’s Day, the commemoration of a battle in which women fought bravely; and in the former communist nations, Russia for example, the socialist holiday of International Women’s Day is observed as opposed to the more capitalistically celebrated Mother’s Day. Both days are holidays in the Ukraine and Kyrgystan.

R is for Regret, eventually felt by Anna Howe.

Regretfully, not long after Mother’s became a national holiday, Anna Howe became embarrassed by how the holiday she espoused was being celebrated. Stores and the marketing of stores used the popular day to sell their wares, especially greeting cards, an industry basically created by the holiday, and chocolate candy.

We know we’ll have no regrets honoring mom on Mother’s Day.

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