Celebrating Mother’s Day 2015 – May 10

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Background

Early Mother’s Day celebrations can be dated back to the spring celebrations to honor Rhea, the Mother of the Gods, in ancient Greek civilization, according to some sources. Later, Mothering Sunday in the United Kingdom was traditionally a day for people to visit the church where they were baptized, although it now also celebrates motherhood in modern times.

The modern-day origins of Mother’s Day can be attributed to two women – Julia Ward Howe and Anna Jarvis, who were important in establishing the tradition in the United States. Around 1870, Julia Ward Howe called for Mother’s Day to be celebrated each year. It continued to be held in Boston for about 10 years under her sponsorship, but died out after that. Other sources say that Juliet Calhoun Blakely initiated Mother’s Day in Albion, Michigan, in the late 1800s. Her sons paid tribute to her each year and urged others to honor their mothers.

In 1907, Anna Jarvis held a private Mother’s Day celebration in memory of her mother, Ann Jarvis, in Grafton, West Virginia. In 1908, she played a key role in arranging a church service that attracted 407 children and their mothers. A Mother’s Day International Association was founded in 1912 to promote the holiday in other countries. Mother’s Day has grown increasingly popular since then.

tellusarapacisThe celebration of Mother’s Day is not related to the many celebrations of mothers and motherhood that have occurred throughout the world over thousands of years, such as the Greek cult to Cybele, the Roman festival of Hilaria, or the Christian Mothering Sunday celebration (originally a celebration of the mother church, not motherhood). Despite this, in some countries Mother’s Day has become synonymous with these older traditions.

During the sixteenth century, people returned to their mother church, the main church or cathedral of the area, for a service to be held on Laetare Sunday. This was either a large local church, or more often the nearest cathedral. Anyone who did this was commonly said to have gone “a-mothering”, although whether this term preceded the observance of Mothering Sunday is unclear. In later times, Mothering Sunday became a day when domestic servants were given a day off to visit their mother church, usually with their own mothers and other family members. It was often the only time that whole families could gather together, since on other days they were prevented by conflicting working hours, and servants were not given free days on other occasions.

Children and young people who were “in service” (as household servants) were given a day off on that date so they could visit their families (or, originally, return to their “mother” church). The children would pick wild flowers along the way to place in the church or give to their mothers. Eventually, the religious tradition evolved into the Mothering Sunday secular tradition of giving gifts to mothers.

Mothering Sunday is a holiday celebrated by Catholic and Protestant Christians in some parts of Europe. It falls on the fourth Sunday in Lent (For Orthodox Christians in Europe and elsewhere, the fourth Sunday in Lent remembers St. John of the Ladder (St. John Climacus)). Secularly, it became an occasion for honouring the mothers of children and giving them presents. It is increasingly being called Mother’s Day, although that has always been a secular event quite different from the original Mothering Sunday. In the UK, Mothering Sunday is celebrated in the same way as Mother’s Day is celebrated elsewhere.

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Many people believe that Mother’s Day is now largely commercialized, with card companies, flower shops, jewelry stores, gift shops, restaurants, hotels, and department stores advertising promotions and special deals for this event. Anna Jarvis, in her lifetime, unsuccessfully filed a lawsuit to stop the over-commercialization of Mother’s Day.

What do people do?

Many people in Canada express their gratitude towards mothers and mother figures on Mother’s Day. Mother figures may include step-mothers, mothers-in-law, guardians (eg. foster parents), and family friends. It is the time for people to thank mothers and mother figures who took the time care for them and help them through life’s challenges.

Some people give cards, flowers, or chocolates, and/or make handmade items or special meals on Mother’s Day. Others take their mothers or mother figures to the movies, a restaurant, café, or a day in a park. Some mothers and mother figures also receive special gifts such as jewelry, clothing, accessories, and gift vouchers for services or products.

Public life

Mother’s Day is not a federal holiday but it is on a Sunday, when many organizations, schools, and government offices are closed. Public transit systems run to their normal Sunday schedules and restaurants may be busier than usual as some people take their mothers out for a treat.

Background and symbols

Early celebrations of Mother’s Day originated from Canada’s neighboring country, the United States. Carnations are a popular Mother’s Day symbol in both Canada and the United States. Some people may choose to wear a carnation as a brooch on Mother’s Day. However, other flowers are also given to mothers or mother figures to symbolize one’s love and appreciation for them.

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