Mother’s Day is just around the corner. It has me thinking about the history and evolution of honoring our Mothers.
Mother’s Day as we know it today has only existed for the past century. But, the celebration has been historically recorded as far back as the ancient Egyptians. They held an annual festival honoring the Goddess Isis, the mother of the Pharaohs. How she came to earn her name is quite the dark story and definitely worth the read. Mother of Pharaohs
During the 17th Century individual mothers began to be honored, in addition to deities or religious figures. A clerical decree in England declared the 4th Sunday of Lent, Mothering Day. This decree allowed those of the working class time off to travel to visit their families. Children that had moved away from family came home for the celebration. They brought their mother’s flowers and cakes as gifts. As a family, they enjoyed a fabulous feast, also allowing for a break in the fasting of Lent. When the settlers came to America, Mothering Day was discontinued and the honoring of mothers was not resurrected until hundreds of years later.
In 1870, Julia Ward Howe (yes, the same person that wrote the Battle Hymn of the Republic) called for an international Mother’s Day that would celebrate peace and motherhood, due to the sadness of so many mothers losing their sons in battle. She financed many of the celebrations and then once she stopped doing that, the holiday once again died out.
Anna Jarvis was so distraught over her mother’s death that she campaigned for a Mother’s Day in remembrance of her own mother. In 1908, she asked the superintendent of the church where her mother taught Sunday School for over twenty years to hold a celebration. He agreed and the first official Mother’s Day celebration took place. Anna arranged for white carnations, her mother’s favorite flower, to be given to every mother in attendance. White carnations are still used as a symbol to honor deceased mothers; while, pink and red carnations are used to honor mothers that are still alive. President Woodrow Wilson finally made Mother’s Day a national observance in 1914, securing the holiday in American history.
Today, Mother’s Day celebrations are wide spread; celebrated in over 100 countries throughout the world. In some areas, it is still closely related with religion and the birth of Christ. Here in the US, we celebrate on a much more individual level. We honor our mother’s and our children then honor us.
My Family’s Mother’s Day Celebrations
My celebration with my mother and now my son has evolved throughout my life. When I was young, my Dad would take me shopping for Mommy’s gift and we would present it to her first thing in the morning. The day was then centered around Dad and I doing everything for Mom, it was her “day off” from running our household. As I grew into my teens and twenties, Mother’s Day became more about the gift I gave my mother and less about the time spent with her.
The same has rang true for my son’s celebrations with me. When he was little, my husband and son would shop for my gift together and then give me the day off. I didn’t cook, clean, do laundry, or lift a finger if I didn’t want to. Now, that my son is in his twenties, he is much more focused on the ease of gift giving, than the act of honoring me as his mother. I dare say that this is due to the commercialization of the holiday vs. the natural centering of oneself in their teens and twenties. I believe there is some resemblance of truth to both sides of this coin.
This year, I have asked that no gifts be given. I have asked only for time, time to enjoy each other’s company; uninterrupted time to talk about our lives and the world around us. Possibly quite soon, my son’s focus will be purchasing the Mother’s Day gift for his little one’s mother. I will not longer have the luxury of monopolizing his “TIME.” And thus recognizing that the sand in life’s hourglass continues to flow, I may not have my mother with my on this earth much longer at all. I plan to take full advantage of “TIME” while it is still mine to take advantage of.
How will you be honored on Mother’s Day? How will you honor your mother, either no longer on this earth or still physically with you?