Mother’s Day: A day to celebrate the women who love and care for us!
Each year on the second Sunday of May we celebrate Mother’s Day. On this day we honor the mother-figures in our lives. Do you know how Mother’s Day began? The history of this special day can be traced back to ancient times, however, the holiday we know and celebrate these days is much newer! This blog post takes a look at the history of Mother’s Day, how it is celebrated in the United States and also, how and when it is celebrated in other countries.
How it all began
Although Mothers’ Day is quite a ‘new’ holiday, mothers and motherhood were celebrated by ancient Greeks and Romans. They held festivals to celebrate the mother goddesses Rhea and Cybele. Arguably, these festivals were not for all mothers, rather 2 very specific goddesses, but the idea that motherhood is important and should be celebrated was the basis of these festivities.
Another early Mother’s Day was the Christian observance of Mothering Sunday. This day was mainly celebrated in the United Kingdom and Europe. Held on the fourth Sunday of Lent, it was a day for people to return to their “mother church”. In other words, people would return to the churches in their hometowns for a special service. Eventually, Mothering Sunday transformed into a day where children would present their mothers with flowers and gifts. In the 1930s Mothering Sunday was merged with the American tradition of Mother’s Day.
Mother’s Day in the US
Mother’s Day as we know it was started in the United States. The first person to push for a day honoring mothers was a woman called Julia Ward Howe. During the civil war she lobbied for a national “Mother’s Day for Peace” after witnessing the horrors of war. Sadly, Howe was not successful in securing a national mothers’ day.
Finally, in 1905, Anna Jarvis succeeded in establishing a Mother’s Day. When Anna’s mother died on May 9, 1905, she began writing letters to the government to ask for an official holiday. As a result of her efforts, the first Mother’s Day was observed on May 10, 1908 at the Andrews Methodist Church in West Virginia.
It took a few more years for Mothers’ Day to be made an official national holiday. On May 9, 1914, President Woodrow Wilson proclaimed Mother’s Day a national observance to be held on the second Sunday of each May.
Anna Jarvis’ hoped that Mother’s Day would be a day of celebration for mothers and their families. She promoted the idea of wearing a white carnation (a flower), visiting your mother, or attending a special church service on that day. However, florists and gift shops had other ideas! They created special campaigns and made Mother’s Day a consumer event!
Jarvis hated the way Mother’s Day was changed! She urged people to stop buying Mother’s Day gifts. Jarvis refused to celebrate the holiday anymore and even petitioned the government to remove it as a holiday altogether!
It is estimated by the National Retail Federation that Mother's Day spending will exceed $23 billion in 2020. However, their survey was completed before covid-19 hit, so we can assume that the real number might be a bit less.
According to the National Geographic, under normal circumstances, Americans spend on average around $186 on their moms on Mothers’ Day – which is really a lot! Especially when they also claim that about 69% of Americans buy their mothers flowers and a further 36% buy jewelry.
FUN FACT: Mother’s Day is the day with the highest phone traffic of the year in the United States!! That means a lot of people are calling their moms!
Mothers’ Day around the world
Most countries around the world celebrate Mother’s Day and many countries celebrate in May. However, the exact date and traditions are different from country to country. Other countries celebrate in a completely different month altogether! For example, in Arab countries and much of Eastern Europe celebrate Mother’s Day in March! In Norway it is in February and in Belarus it is in October. In Thailand, Mother’s Day is celebrated in August on the birthday of the queen. Customs are also different from place to place, but the principle of honoring your mother is the same.
Mother’s Day today
Traditionally Mother’s Day was established to honor your own mother. However, times change and so does the definition of motherhood. Today, Mother’s Day honors all mothers, caregivers, grandmothers, Aunts – basically anyone who acts in some way as a mother figure. It is a day to acknowledge all the things these women do for us and our communities and thank them for making our lives a little (or a lot) easier.
We know that most Zoni students are far away from their mothers when they come to study with us. That is why it is extremely important to us, that we provide students with caring, supportive and positive female role models for them. We have worked very hard to create a nurturing environment on campus. For many students, Zoni staff and teachers become mother-figures to them. In fact, many of our staff and teachers are mothers, and so caring for our students comes as second nature to them. Just as they do with their own children, our teachers are always happy to give advice, support and encouragement to any student who needs it.
We would like to wish all the Zoni mothers, teachers, staff and also students, a very happy Mother’s Day! Now, it is your turn - don’t forget to wish your mom/mother-figure a happy Mother’s Day this Sunday, we are sure she will appreciate it.
Left: Some Zoni Mom's and their families