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Sunday, May 10, 2009

The History of Mother's Day

Mother's Day celebrations date back to a Greek spring festival dedicated to the goddess Rhea, the mother of many deities. In ancient Rome, offerings were made to the Great Mother of Gods, Cybele. Celtic Pagans celebrated the mother goddess Brigid. Here in the United States, we have Anna Jarvis and her daughter Anna for our celebrations.

The first celebration of Mother's Day here in the United States took place in 1858. Of course, it wasn't exactly called "Mother's Day". Jarvis organized Mother's Work Day to raise awareness of the poor health conditions in her community. Jarvis died in 1905. Her daughter, also named Anna, began campaigning to memorialize her mother's life work. She lobbied for a special day just for mothers. In 1908, a service was held at her West Virginia church in honor of Anna's mother. White Carnations, Jarvis' favorite flower, were handed out to those that attended.

Five years later, the House of Representatives adopted a resolution for all federal officials to wear white carnations on Mother's Day. However, it wasn't until 1914 that President Woodrow Wilson signed a bill making it an official national holiday. Unfortunately, Anna was not pleased with the gift-giving tradition that became associated with the holiday. She was even arrested for disturbing the peace at a convention selling carnations for a war mother's group. Anna died in 1948 in West Chester, Pennsylvania poor having spent her inheritance campaigning against the commercialization of the holiday.

Today, don't just send a simple card. Write your mother a letter or show her how much you appreciate everything she has done. Happy Mother's Day!

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