It began with the ancient Greeks, became a voice for peace, and now receives near-universal recognition
by Craig Weatherby
The idea behind Mother's Day has roots among the ancient Greeks, who kept a festival dedicated to Cybele, a great mother of gods, around the vernal equinox, observed today on March 31.
The Greek tradition was adopted by ancient Romans, who moved the celebration to the Ides of March (March 15 to March 18). Ancient Romans also honored their mothers on the feast day of Matronalia, which was dedicated to Juno, the goddess of childbirth.
The predecessor to today’s holiday was first envisioned after the American Civil War by English social activist Julia Ward Howe, with the purpose of uniting women against war.
But it was the efforts of Philadelphia woman Anna Jarvis—never a mother herself—that led directly to broad celebration of Mother's Day.
Ms. Jarvis came up with the concept on the first anniversary of her mother's death in May, 1907, and actually trademarked "Mother's Day" in an attempt to defend, unsuccessfully, against rampant commercialization.
In 1914, President Wilson issued a National proclamation establishing the holiday: a watershed moment that made flower stores, candy makers, restaurants, card makers—and, one hopes, many mothers—quite happy. Everyone that is, but the modern holiday's creator!
While Mother’s Day grew to its current proportions largely in response to a persistent marketing push, mothers richly deserve a day dedicated to honoring their sacrifices... no matter how the holiday came about!