“Near the cross of Jesus stood his mother, his mother’s sister, Mary the wife of Clopas, and Mary Magdalene. When Jesus saw his mother there, and the disciple whom he loved standing nearby, he said to her, ‘Woman here is your son,’ and to the disciple ‘Here is your mother.’ From that time on, this disciple took her into his home.”
- The Holy Bible, John 19: 25 – 27.
The setting aside of “Mothers Day” has it’s antecedents in the ancient world. The ancient Greeks celebrated a holiday in honor of Rhea, the mother of the gods. The Romans celebrated a holiday in honor of Cybele, a mother goddess, March 22-25. These celebrations, as did any number of Roman holidays, became sufficiently notorious that the followers of Cybele wound up being banished from Rome. And in the British Isles and Celtic Europe, the goddess Brigid, and later her more proper successor St. Brigid, were honored in the spring with a Mother's Day, which celebrated the giving of the first milk of the ewes. And there are “Mothers Days” throughout the world in virtually every country. But in America, “Mothers Day” originated with the effort of a devoted daughter to make sure that children would not become so entangled with their own lives that they would forget their mothers.
Anna Jarvis, and Mothers Day
Miss Anna Jarvis (below), was born in 1864 and went to school in Grafton, West Virginia. Her mother’s address made it difficult for Miss Anna to attend Mary Baldwin College, but she was quite determined
The Idea of "Mothers Day" Catches On!
The idea was a huge success with Miss Anna’s friends. Her friend John Wanamaker (below), who was the country’s largest clothing merchant
Anna Jarvis' Unhappy End
The idea of Mothers Day caught on immediately, and in spite of some difficulties in the U.S. Congress (some things never change!), it was finally approved. On the date May 8, in 1914, President Woodrow Wilson signed a proclamation officially designating the second Sunday in May as “Mothers Day”. Regrettably, Miss Anna did not finish her days so happily. She had a love affair which ended poorly, and in considerable disillusionment over this, she vowed never to marry, and wound up viewing the day which she had been so instrumental in getting proclaimed as a very personal mockery. The increasing degree of commercialization which inevitably began attaching itself to “Mothers Day” only made her unhappiness worse. She went so far as to initiate several lawsuits against companies which sought to profit from the day. These lawsuits failed, and Anna Jarvis died childless and alone in 1948.
My Own Mother
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"Extraordinary Origins of Everyday Things" by Charles Panati, Harper & Row Publishers,
New York, 1987.