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 United States.
Mother’s Day postcard 1916, via Wikipedia.
Although Mother’s Day is honored internationally, Mothering Sunday is still celebrated in many countries.
Mother’s Day and Mothering Sunday dates in countries
Second Sunday in February:
March 8 (International Women’s Day):
Fourth Sunday in Lent:
Isle of Man
United Arab Emirates
First Sunday of May:
Second Sunday of May:
Antigua and Barbuda
Papua New Guinea
Saint Kitts and Nevis
Saint Vincent and the Grenadines
Trinidad and Tobago
Last Sunday of May:
Last Sunday of May (or First Sunday of June if the last Sunday of May is Pentecost):
Second Sunday of June:
First Monday of July:
Antwerp province of Belgium
Second Monday of October:
Third Sunday of October:
Mother’s Day quote
“Mothers hold their children’s hands for a short while, but their hearts forever.” – Anonymous
Also see Father’s Day