In ancient Greece, the spring festival honored Rhea, wife of Cronus and mother of the gods and goddesses.
Cybele was honored in Roman festivals. This Roman celebration, known as Hilaria, lasted for three days – from March 15 to 18, and began several hundred years before Christ was born.
In seventeenth century England, young men and women would bring small gifts to their mothers in observance of this day. This British holiday would not carry over to America. One explanation is that life on the American frontier was simply too harsh to take time out for this celebration. Some also believe this conflicted with rigid Puritan beliefs. It would be several centuries later before Americans redesigned their own day dedicated to the memory of their mothers.
Julia Ward Howe, author of Battle Hymn of the Republic, after the death and destruction of the Civil War, asked mothers to come together and protest sons killing sons of other mothers. In 1870, twelve years after writing the Battle Hymn, she issued a call for an international Mother’s Day to celebrate peace. Howe funded celebrations, but they did not continue. Though her idea did not catch on at the time, Howe had planted the seed that would grow into what we know as Mother’s Day today.
In West Virginia, a women’s group led by Anna Reeves Jarvis, began to celebrate Mother’s Friendship Day in order to re-unite families and neighbors divided between the Union and Confederate sides of the Civil War. After the death of Anna Reeves Jarvis, her daughter Anna M. Jarvis began a campaign for the creation of an official Mother’s Day in remembrance of her mother and in honor of peace. In 1908, Anna petitioned the superintendent of the church where her Mother had spent twenty years as a Sunday School teacher, and her request was honored.
On May 10, 1908, the first official Mother’s Day celebration took place at Andrew’s Methodist Church in Grafton, West Virginia and a church in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Two white carnations, the favorite flower of Anna Reeves Jarvis, were given to every Mother in attendance.
Today white carnations are used to honor deceased Mothers, while pink or red carnations pay tribute to Mothers who are still alive. I remember the sadness in my mother’s eyes the first time she pinned a pink carnation on me, as she wore her white one.
Today we pause and honor our Mothers, those who are still with us, and those who are not. If I wore corsages, mine would be white. How I wish that were not so. I was blessed to have had two mothers in my life, for my mother-in-law was a second mother to me, as beloved as the woman who gave birth to me.
Today I pray for those women who gave me so much, the one who gave me life, who sacrificed and did without many things so that I could have what I needed, or maybe just wanted. I pray for the woman who gave birth to and raised the wonderful guy I married. He would not be the man he is without the mother God gave him.
Here in the Treehouse, we join in prayer for the mothers we love. We unite in thanks for their selfless love and sacrifice. We pray for mothers of the unborn, that God might give them the strength and wisdom to hold onto that precious life, that unique gift to our world. We offer thanks to all our mothers. May your day be spent with the ones you love.
Share a story of your mother here. Remember with us, that we may never forget the sanctity of life, and that sacrifice to bring it forth.