Thousands of years ago, in ancient Greece and Rome, pagans held spring festivals honoring their mother goddesses. Rhea is the Greek mythological mother of the Olympian gods and goddesses and was worshipped as the goddess of fertility and the mountain wilds. In statutes, Rhea is depicted as a matronly woman, seated on a throne flanked by lions. An ancient Rome, Romans celebrated “Magna Mater” (Great Mother), however, these celebrations became so wild and notorious that the Roman government banned Magna Mater’s followers from Rome. What do mothers and wild parties have in common? Ask the ancient Romans.
During the first centuries after the crucifixion of Christ, early Christians celebrated Mary as the mother of God, “Theotokos” in Greek and “Mater Dei” in Latin. By the 7th century, Christians around the world set aside January 1st as a special day to honor Mary.
In America, Mother’s Day was the brainstorm of Anna Jarvis in 1868. Jarvis wanted to establish a day where Americans would unite for peace and friendship. In 1868, she created a committee to establish “Mother’s Friendship Day,” a day set aside for former Civil War combatants and their families to reunite and form friendships. When Jarvis died, her daughter, also Anne Jarvis, took up the call. Anne Jarvis wanted a day to honor all moms and was upset that America’s holidays were too male dominated. Jarvis sponsored the first U.S. celebration of Mother’s Day at St. Andrew’s Methodist Church in Grafton, West Virginia, in the early 1900s. Anne Jarvis was so successful in promoting the holiday that in 1914, the U.S. Congress passed a law designating the second Sunday in May as Mother’s Day. President Wilson issued a proclamation that on the first Mother’s Day, Americans should show the flag in honor of those mothers whose sons had died in war.
Mother’s Day has become a major American and commercial holiday. It is the third largest holiday for sending cards. Americans take their mothers out for brunches or lunch on Mother’s Day, and it has become a source of great wealth for the card and restaurant industries. The founder of Mother’s Day, Anne Jarvis, decried the commercialization of the holiday she championed. In fact, in 1948, Jarvis was arrested for disturbing the peace during a protest against Mother’s Day.
The Classical Historian family expresses great admiration and gratitude to all mothers. We see mothers as the teacher of culture, manners, standards, and morality. The author of this article is the 10th of 11 children. He’s glad his mom didn’t stop at number 9. Thanks Mom! The author’s wife is the mother of seven beautiful children. Thank you, Zdenka! The author’s mother-in-law bravely raised her children as a single mom. Thank you Maminka! And we wish all moms on May 13th, and on every day, a Happy Mother’s Day!
In honor of the United States federal holiday of Mother’s Day, all purchases from The Classical Historian are discounted 20% through May 13th, when you use the coupon code Mothersday.