Poet Samuel Taylor Coleridge once stated, “The love of a mother is the veil of a softer light between the heart and the heavenly Father.” This sentiment is nationally celebrated on Mother’s Day each year. However, long before Mother’s Day became an official American holiday, maternal love and support was honored in a variety of primitive forms. Perhaps the earliest version of Mother’s Day occurred in ancient Greece. Worshippers celebrated Rhea, the mythical mother of many of the Greeks’ gods and goddesses, during a spring festival staged in her honor. Borrowing from Greek tradition, the Romans dedicated the Ides of March to the reverence of Cybele, a maternal goddess in the Roman religion; this spring celebration, called Hilaria, spanned three days and involved parades, masquerades, and visits to the temple.
Millenia later, American activists began campaigning for national recognition of the self-sacrificing contributions of mothers. These early feminists included such historical figures as Julia Ward, the lyricist behind “The Battle Hymn of the Republic,” and social pioneer Ann Jarvis. Julia Ward launched a successful crusade for the city of Boston to recognize the second Sunday of May as Mother’s Day. Ann Jarvis’s campaign for Mother’s Day to gain national attention began after the Civil War. Jarvis worked to unite mothers on both sides of the conflict. Although Jarvis passed away before Mother’s Day became a national holiday, her daughter Anna Reeves Jarvis spearheaded a movement that resulted in President Woodrow Wilson officially recognizing Mother’s Day in 1914.
Today, Mother’s Day has spawned a multi-billion dollar industry; an excess of twenty-three billion dollars were spent celebrating the holiday in 2018. Mother’s Day is the busiest day of the year for restaurant as about 87 million people treated their mother to an effortless meal last year. The most popular gift for mothers tend to be the greeting card, and the carnation typically serves as the official flower of Mother’s Day. No matter the gift, take some time to celebrate the women who love you this Mother’s Day!