The ancient Greeks dedicated their annual spring festival to Rhea, the wife of Cronus and mother of various deities. The Romans called the event the Hilaria, by making offerings in the temple of Cybele, the mother of the deities on the Ides of March. Early Christians celebrated the festival on the fourth Sunday in Lent in honor of the Virgin Mary, adorning churches with jewels, flowers and expensive gifts. In England, an ecclesiastical order decreed the dedication as Mothering Sunday.
The event was not celebrated nationally in the United States until Julia Ward Howe suggested Mother’s Day in 1872. In 1877, on the second Sunday of May, Juliet Calhoun Blakeley stepped in for the Reverend Myron Daughterty when the reverend became distraught, apparently because an anti-temperance group had forced his son to spend the night in a saloon. Proud of their mother’s achievement, Charles and Moses Blakeley encouraged others to honor a Mother’s Day. In the 1880’s the Methodist church began celebrating Mother’s Day in Blakeley’s honor.
Various efforts were made to honor Mother’s Day nationally in the US but it received official recognition only after Anna Jarvis organized a series of Mother’s Day Work Clubs. The first Mother’s Day was celebrated in Grafton, West Virginia, on May 10, 1908, in the church where Jarvis’s mother had taught Sunday School. (Grafton is the home to the International Mother’s Day Shrine.)
The Mother’s Day International Association was founded on 12 December 1912, and on 7 May 1914 President Woodrow Wilson designated the second Sunday of May as Mother’s Day in the US.
Although Mother’s Day is honored internationally, Mothering Sunday is still celebrated in many countries.
|Second Sunday in February||Norway|
|March 8||Balkan countries: Albania, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Croatia, |
Macedonia, Romania, Serbia-Montenegro and Slovenia
|Fourth Sunday in Lent |
|Ireland and United Kingdom|
|March 21 |
(First day of spring)
|Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon and Syria|
|First Sunday in May||Hungary, Lithuania, Portugal, South Africa and Spain|
|May 10||Argentina, Bahrain, Bolivia, India, Malaysia, Mexico, Oman, Pakistan, |
Qatar, Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates and Venuzuela
|Second Sunday in May||Australia, Austria, Belgium, Brazil, Canada, Chile, China, Denmark, |
Estonia, Finland, Germany, Hong Kong, Italy, Japan, Latvia, Malta,
Netherlands, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore, Slovakia, Switzerland,
Taiwan, Turkey, United States
Also see Father’s Day