Mother's Day through the Ages
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Mother's Day through the Ages

Mother's Day is a special occasion celebrated across the world to honor and show appreciation for the mothers in our lives. While many of us associate Mother's Day with giving flowers, cards, and gifts, the history of this holiday is rich and varied. In this blog post, we will take a detailed look at the origins of Mother's Day and how it has evolved through the ages.

Delving into history, the tradition of celebrating mothers isn't a recent phenomenon but rather a practice that stretches back to ancient times. The Greeks and Romans were pioneers in setting aside days to honor mother goddesses—Rhea and Cybele were venerated with grand festivities that were the highlight of the year. Imagine the ancient cities alive with music, the air filled with the aroma of feasts, and citizens presenting offerings to pay homage to these maternal deities. As with any great Greek or Roman festival, food and drink were pivotal parts of the celebrations and offerings. Descriptions of these festivals include a cleansing of the goddesses through dipping their statues in wine, great banquets, plays and ritual sacrifice. This ancient tradition laid the foundational stone for the diverse ways we honor mothers today. 

In the tapestry of Mother's Day history, the threads of Christian traditions weave a vibrant part of the story. Mothering Sunday, falling on the fourth Sunday of Lent, was a pivotal moment in the Christian calendar dedicated to honoring the Virgin Mary—the mother of Jesus. But the day held an even broader significance, extending its reverence to all mothers. Families would reunite, making the journey back to their "mother" churches—the main churches or cathedrals in their home areas. This pilgrimage was not just a spiritual journey but also a heartfelt reunion with their roots and families.

The observance of Mothering Sunday was a day brimming with joy and community spirit. After attending church services, the day unfolded into a celebration of motherhood in all its forms. Children, often domestic servants were given the day off, would return home to their mothers bearing "mothering cakes" or flowers—a tradition echoing the gestures of appreciation we see today.

Stepping into the 19th century, we find the figure of Julia Ward Howe, an emblem of advocacy and foresight in the context of Mother's Day. In 1870, amidst the aftermath of the Civil War, she penned the "Mother's Day Proclamation," a powerful call to action for women across the globe. Howe envisioned mothers of all nations gathering to protect not only their children but all children from the devastating impacts of conflict. 

Julia Ward Howe organized meetings in Boston every year, aiming to bring her vision to life. While these gatherings didn't directly lead to the establishment of the modern Mother's Day, they sowed the seeds for a new awareness and appreciation for the role of mothers in society. 

The story of how Mother's Day came to be celebrated in its modern form is deeply intertwined with the efforts of Anna Jarvis, a determined American woman passionate about commemorating the enduring spirit of mothers. Following the death of her mother, a woman deeply involved in community welfare and the betterment of society, Jarvis was moved to honor her mother's legacy as well as the contributions of all mothers. Her journey began in 1908 when she organized a memorial service for her mother in Grafton, West Virginia, which marked the first official observance of Mother's Day. 

Jarvis's vision and determination panned out in 1914 when her advocacy convinced President Woodrow Wilson to designate the second Sunday in May as a national holiday for honoring mothers. This decree solidified Mother's Day as a recognized celebration across the United States, setting the stage for the tradition that countless people observe today. Jarvis's contribution to establishing Mother's Day highlights the power of individual dedication in enacting societal change, a testament to the profound impact that one person's actions can have on honoring the universal and timeless role of mothers.

As Mother's Day blossomed in popularity, it naturally attracted the attention of businesses, evolving into a hallmark occasion for consumer spending. This shift saw an array of products, from elegant jewelry to heartfelt greeting cards, being marketed as perfect Mother's Day gifts. While some argue that this commercial aspect dilutes the holiday's true meaning, it's important to recognize that for others, these gestures—be they big or small—serve as tokens of appreciation and love. The essence of giving, after all, lies in the thoughtfulness behind the gesture rather than the price tag attached to it. Retailers, recognizing the emotional weight of this day, offer a multitude of ways for individuals to express their gratitude towards their mothers. Whether it's a simple handmade card or a lavish gift, the act of giving on Mother's Day continues to be a significant way to convey love and appreciation, even amidst the bustling marketplaces that characterize this modern celebration.

While the essence of Mother's Day—honoring the incredible women in our lives—remains constant, the ways in which this day is celebrated can vary dramatically from country to country, adding a beautiful tapestry of traditions to this global occasion. For instance, in Thailand, Mother's Day is marked on the birthday of Queen Sirikit, the mother of the country, with grand parades and fireworks, underscoring the nation's communal respect for motherhood. Across the Atlantic, in Mexico, the day is infused with music and joy, as serenades fill the air to wake mothers with songs of love and appreciation. 

In Ethiopia, families gather for a multi-day celebration called Antrosht, which is part of the larger Meskel festival, involving large feasts and music, emphasizing the communal aspect of gratitude. Meanwhile, in Norway, which celebrates Mother's Day on the second Sunday in February, it's more about a cozy family gathering, perhaps reflective of the country's wintry season during that time.

Australia and Canada share the same date with the United States but have their unique twists, from wearing colorful carnations to signify one's mother being alive (red) or passed (white) in Australia, to participating in runs and public events to raise funds for women's causes in Canada. 

In America we tend to associate Mother’s Day with a day of service. Each family is different, some choosing to serve breakfast in bed; others celebrate with brunch and Mimosas. The celebration is truly centered on the heart of each family, Moms. To spice up your Mother’s Day Celebration check out the Common Cents Liquor Store article on Sparkling Mother’s Day: Distinctive Mimosa Ideas. 

Be sure to follow along with more blogs to come as we continue to explore all things liquor! As always, we encourage all our Common Cents Liquor Store readers to please drink responsibly. We only serve to ages 21+.