While nations around the world have their ways of honoring mothers, the concept of Mother’s Day can actually be traced back to the Greeks and Romans who held festivals in honor of their mother goddesses Rhea and Cybele.
Later Christians adopted the holiday calling it “Mothering Sunday”. Largely a holiday in the United Kingdom, Mothering Sunday was celebrated during Lent calling all the faithful to return to their “mother” church.
The American celebration was conceptualized in pre-civil war days by Ann Reeves Jarvis and Julia Ward Howe. Jarvis organized the Mother’s Day Work Clubs which focused on teaching women how to properly care for their children.
Later these clubs consolidated into Mother’s Friendship Day which helped bridge the divide between the Union and Confederate states by bringing mothers from both sides together in a unified cause. Julia Ward Howe wrote the “Mother’s Day Proclamation” which called for mother’s across America to unite in the name of world peace.
Other Activists and prominent individuals such as Juliet Calhoun Blakely, Mary Towles Sasseen, and Frank Hering also contributed to the establishment of our Mother’s Day holiday. But it was Jarvis in 1908 who, through the financial backing of a Philadelphia business owner, organized the first Mother’s Day celebration at a Methodist church in West Virginia.
Soon many states across America adopted the Mother’s Day celebration. Due to the hard work of Jarvis, President Woodrow Wilson, in 1914, lobbied for and signed the proclamation which established the second Sunday in May officially as Mother’s Day!