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Mother's Day

Mothers have been revered throughout history, from ancient pagan celebrations to church holidays to present-day Mother's Day.

Many countries throughout the world devote a day -- or, in some cases, two or more days -- to honor their mothers. The tradition dates back to pagan celebrations in ancient Greece in honor of Rhea, the mother of the gods. In Rome, too, Cybele, a mother of goddesses, was worshipped as early as 250 B.C.

With the advent of the Christian religion Mother Church was substituted for Mother Goddess and ceremonies in honor of Cybele were adopted by the church to venerate the Mother of Christ. In old England the observance became known as "Mothering Sunday", or the "Mid-Lent-Sunday”, on the fourth Sunday in Lent. Church goers would attend the mother church of their parish, laden with offerings. In the 16th century it became a celebration where workers would return to their homes with gifts of food for their mothers.

In the United States, Anna M. Jarvis is credited with beginning the celebration of Mother's Day. She was greatly attached to her mom, Reese Jarvis, and turned her deep sorrow over her death into action. Anna and her friends began a letter-writing campaign to gain support of influential ministers, and congressmen in declaring a national Mother's Day holiday. She felt children often neglected to appreciate their mother enough while she was still alive. As a result of her efforts the first Mother's Day was observed by a church service on May 10, 1908. The first Mother's Day proclamation was issued by the governor of West Virginia in 1910. By 1911 every state had its own observances and the Mother's Day International Association was incorporated on December 12, 1912.

It must be noted that, while Miss Jarvis spent most of her adult life striving to create a special day to honor mothers, in the end, she was disappointed with the way Mother's Day turned out. As the popularity of the holiday grew, so did its commercialization. What she had intended as a day of sentiment quickly turned into a day of profit. In the end, shortly before her death, Anna Jarvis told a reporter that she was sorry she ever started Mother's Day.

The above was excerpted from Mother's Day History, The History of Mother's Day, and Anna Jarvis, Founder of Mother's Day