Mother's Day History in USA and UK


The United States celebrates Mother's Day on the second Sunday in May. In 1872 Julia Ward Howe called for women to join in support of disarmament and asked for 2 June 1872, to be established as a "Mother's Day for Peace". Her 1870 "Appeal to womanhood throughout the world" is sometimes referred to as Mother's Day Proclamation. But Howe's day was not for honoring mothers but for organizing pacifist mothers against war. In the 1880s and 1890s there were several further attempts to establish an American "Mother's Day", but these did not succeed beyond the local level.

The first modern American Mother's Day was celebrated in 1908, when Anna Jarvis held a memorial for her mother at St Andrew's Methodist Church in Grafton, West Virginia, which now holds the International Mother's Day Shrine. Her campaign to make "Mother's Day" a recognized holiday in the United States began in 1905, the year her mother, Ann Reeves Jarvis, died. Her mother had been a peace activist who cared for wounded soldiers on both sides of the American Civil War, and created Mother’s Day Work Clubs to address public health issues. Anna Jarvis wanted to honor her mother by continuing the work she started and to set aside a day to honor all mothers, reasoning that they were "the person who has done more for you than anyone in the world." It wasn’t until 1914, Woodrow Wilson signed a proclamation designating Mother's Day, held on the second Sunday in May, as a national holiday to honor mothers.

Influenced by the USA’s Mother’s Day Holiday lead the United Kingdom to celebrate Mother's Day on the fourth Sunday of Lent, the same day on which Mothering Sunday had been celebrated for centuries. Some of the Churches Mothering Sunday traditions were revived and incorporated into the modern holiday.  Mothering Sunday traditions, dating back to at least the 15th century, contain even older traditions.

The modern celebrations of Mother's Day are predated by the many celebrations of mothers and motherhood by indigenous religions that have occurred throughout the world over thousands of years, such as the Greek cult to Cybele, the Roman festival of Hilaria, the Celtic Beltane or May Day/May Queen festivals, and other world-wide festivals to Mother Goddesses or Goddesses of Spring or Fertility.  These festivals usually occur between the first day of spring and Summer solstice.

After the spread of Christianity, these festivals were absorbed into the church holidays of Easter and Mothering Sunday, the later focused on the celebration of the “Mother Church” and sometimes Mary “the Mother of God.”  In the British Isles, the Crowning of “Mary the Queen of Heaven” with flowers is directly related to the pre-Christian May Day rite of the “Crowning of the May Queen” when a young, virginal girl is crowned with a head-dress of spring flowers.  Remnants of the older indigenous fertility/mother goddess rites are sometimes still seen in modern Mother’s day traditions and symbology and vary by country.  We have one antique vintage style Mother's Day greeting card example here showing the a) leaving of yellow flowers at the b) window which is decorated with flowering branches which are Beltane customs and beside her what could be a May Day basket.  (See Wikipedia for more information about Mother’s Day, Mothering Sunday, May Day and Beltane.)

Antique, Retro and Vintage Style
​Mothers and Fathers Day Cards


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