How the World Celebrates Mother’s Day

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Mother’s Day is more than just cards, chocolates, and flowers; it’s a celebration of maternal love. Take a look at how different countries have commemorated mothers throughout history. 

To see the riot of floral colors and arrangements, the abundance of store and media advertisements, and the secretive smiles that accompany the frenzy of scholastic activity preceding Mother’s Day, it would be easy to assume that the celebration is a combined invention of florists, super malls, and school art teachers.

Nothing could be further from the truth. Mother’s Day is a time-honored tradition, with roots as ancient as the spring celebrations of Ancient Greece, Rome, and Egypt. This holiday is devoted to celebrating the one woman whose unconditional love and caring has equaled none other on the planet.

On this occasion, children and adults around the world take the time to revere, pay tribute to, and give gifts to their mothers. These offerings range from clumsily designed, homemade tokens enveloped in love, to breakfast in bed cooked by the kids, to elaborate gifts wrapped with the equally sure intention of pleasing their recipient.

Perhaps more than any other holiday, Mother’s Day transcends time, space, and religious barriers. While it is celebrated on different dates and in various ways around the globe, it is rendered unique by the fact that the entire world celebrates the expression of the simple yet all-encompassing love between a mother and her child.

United States

Anna M. Jarvis (1864-1948) is credited with originating the Mother’s Day holiday in the United States. The ninth of 11 children born to Ann Marie Reese Jarvis and Granville Jarvis, Anna herself never married.

Anna was extremely attached to her mother, a minister’s daughter, who for 20 years taught Sunday school in the Andrews Methodist Church of Grafton, West Virginia. As a young girl, Anna often heard her mother express the hope that someday, a memorial would be established for all mothers, living and dead, “Commemorating her for the matchless service she renders to humanity in every field of life. She is entitled to it.”

Jarvis’s mother died in Philadelphia in May 1905. Left alone by her mother’s grave, with her blind sister Elsinore and her brother Claude, Anna vowed that her mother would have that Mother’s Day. She sorely missed the close bond she’d shared with her mom.

Two years after her mother’s death, Anna and her friends launched an intense letter-writing campaign to gain the support of influential clergy, businessmen, and congressmen in declaring a national Mother’s Day, and fulfilling her deceased mother’s wish. She hoped that the celebration would increase respect for parents and strengthen family bonds.

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