The second Sunday in May is Mother’s Day in the United States and many other countries, including Denmark, Italy, Venezuela, Turkey, Australia, and Japan. There have been ancient festivals in the spring, the season of fertility, from Greek and Roman times, with wild celebrations, dancing, drinking and revelry. As Europe transitioned to Christianity, the Church set aside the fourth Sunday of Lent as a day to celebrate the Virgin Mary, and for people to honor their “mother church.” From the 1600s, families in Britain were encouraged to get together, and servants or workers were allowed one day off work to visit their mothers, since they often worked on separate estates and rarely got to see each other. Mothering Day was also declared an exception to the fasting and penance of Lent, so that families could have a feast together.
When the pilgrims came to America, they celebrated few holidays. Mother’s Day was reintroduced to America in 1870 by Julia Ward Howe, who wanted to set aside a day of protest after the Civil War, in which mothers could come together and protest their sons killing other mothers’ sons. The woman who created the US Mother’s Day was Anna Jarvis, a schoolteacher who lived with her mother most of her life. Her mother had held Mother’s Friendship Days to reunite families and neighbors separated during the war, and when she died (on the second Sunday of May 1905), Anna worked to proclaim an official Mother’s Day to honor her mother and celebrate peace. In 1908, she passed out 500 white carnations (her mother’s favorite flower) at St. Andrew’s Methodist Episcopal Church in Grafton, West Virginia, one for each mother in the congregation. In 1912, West Virginia became the first state to adopt an official Mother’s Day, and in 1914 President Woodrow Wilson and Congress made it a national holiday.
“No matter how old a mother is she watches her middle aged children for signs of improvement.”
Florida Scott-Maxwell (1883) American/Scottish writer, suffragist and psychologist
The Friends’ Bookstore has a wonderful selection of GIFT books perfect for your mother! Or yourself!
Stop in soon (don’t forget our second saturday sale on the 14th May, featuring craft books).