Mother’s Day History – The True History of Mother’s Day

Mother’s Day is an occasion for showing love and gratitude to mothers. Did you know about Mother’s Day History and how it began? In Britain, Mother’s Day started much earlier than in the USA.

Mother’s Day is not a public holiday in the UK. Businesses, organizations, and shops are open or closed as usual on any other Sunday of the year. Public transport runs on its regular Sunday schedule. Restaurants may be busier than usual, as some people take their mothers out for a treat. In the USA, Mother’s Day is typically not a bank holiday except in Arizona, where it falls on a Sunday. On this day, most state government offices and employees follow their Sunday schedule.


Mother's Day History


Mother’s Day History

Activist Ann Reeves Jarvis founded the Mother’s Day Work Clubs in 1858 to address public health and sanitation issues in western Virginia.  During the American Civil War, Ann Jarvis encouraged the Moms’ Day Work Clubs to remain neutral. Mother’s Day has various people attributed to its origins.

Many believe that the tradition of Mother’s Day in the US was shaped by two women. While others claim that Juliet Calhoun Blakely initiated Mother’s Day in Albion, Michigan, in the late 1800s. Julia Ward Howe advocated for Mother’s Day to be celebrated annually to promote pacifism around 1870. It was held in Boston for about a decade under her sponsorship but faded away afterward. In 1907, Anna Jarvis organized a private Mother’s Day celebration in Grafton, West Virginia, in memory of her mother, Ann Jarvis.

Anna Jarvis embarked on a campaign for Mother’s Day to be more widely recognized, later receiving financial support from John Wanamaker. He was a clothing merchant from Philadelphia. In 1908, she played a key role in arranging a service at Andrew’s Methodist Episcopal Church in Grafton, West Virginia. The service was attended by 407 children and their mothers. The church has since been transformed into the International Mother’s Day Shrine, a tribute to all mothers, and designated as a National Historic Landmark.

Mother's Day History


Mother’s Day History Canada

Celebrations of mothers and parenthood have been observed worldwide for over a thousand years. Canada’s Mother’s Day dates back to 1907 when American teacher Anna Jarvis organized the first Mother’s Day in honor of her late mother. In 1915, this day became an official holiday in Canada, and Canadians have since celebrated this special day, which typically falls on the second Sunday of May.

Young children make handmade gifts and cards, present roses to their mothers, and cook special breakfasts on this day. They learn about this day in kindergarten, where teachers help them create gifts and discuss Mother’s Day ideas. While Mother’s Day is not a public holiday where people get time off work, it is widely celebrated in Canada.

Mother’s Day History England

It is a fact that as early as the 1600s, Britain dedicated a day for mothers known as ‘Mothering Sunday’. The celebration has its roots in the practice of destitute people in Britain sending their young children to work as domestic servants or apprentices with the wealthy.

At that time, people believed it was important for these children, away from their families, to be allowed to visit their homes once a year. The middle Sunday of the fasting period of Lent was chosen as the time for the annual visit to the house. Therefore, the day was called ‘Refreshment Sunday’ or ‘Mid-Lent Sunday’.

In Britain, the day dedicated to mothers was more commonly known as Mothering Sunday. Mainly, children visited their ‘Mother Church’, the church of their home, and not the ‘Daughter Church’, the closest church nearby. After visiting the church, the children would meet their mothers and give them flowers gathered from bushes along the way. Young girls would also prepare special cakes called ‘Simnel Cakes’ for their mothers.

Mother's Day History Canada


Mother’s Day History Australia

It took almost a decade for Mother’s Day to gain widespread recognition in Australia. The first announcement of community gatherings for Mother’s Day in Australia was made in 1910, but the public celebration by giving mothers a white flower gained popularity slowly over the following years.

The plan of appropriate songs was suggested by the Methodist paper to do “something of the special individual for Mothers’ Day”. Additionally, the Salvation Army introduced a paper notice announcing that Mother’s Day was to be observed in every corp throughout the Territory on Sunday, 2nd May 1920.

An article titled ‘Gifts and Giving: Ways and Methods’ appeared in the Hobart edition of ‘The World’ newspaper on Thursday, 8th June 1920, which recognized that mothers were frequently overlooked when it came to gift occasions, and Mother’s Day was proposed as the solution.

Mother’s Day UK

In the UK, Mother’s Day is celebrated with great enthusiasm and fervor, but it is not celebrated on the same date as in the US. Mother’s Day celebrations in the UK take place on the fourth Sunday in the period of Lent. As the Lenten days are not fixed, the date for Mother’s Day changes every year.

Mother’s Day began to be celebrated in the UK in the seventeenth century as Mothering Sunday, long before it was started in the US. Today, the traditional celebration of Mothering Sunday is more commonly known as Mother’s Day in Britain and is celebrated in the same way as it is celebrated in the US. On this day, children give roses and bouquets to their mothers to express their love for them.

Mother's Day History


Mother’s Day History of Ladies

Three women are primarily credited with the creation of Mother’s Day: Ann Reeves Jarvis, Julia Ward Howe, and Anna M. Jarvis, Ann’s daughter.

Ann Reeves Jarvis

Ann Reeves Jarvis, also known as “Mother Jarvis,” was a young Appalachian homemaker who taught Sunday school lessons and organized “Mother’s Day Work Clubs” in West Virginia during the 1800s to combat unsanitary living conditions. These clubs were aimed at educating and assisting mothers in need, particularly in the face of high infant mortality rates prevalent in Appalachia.

During the Civil War, Mother Jarvis also organized women’s groups, encouraging them to assist without regard to the side their men had chosen. After the war, she proposed a “Mother’s Friendship Day” to promote peace between former Union and Confederate families.


Ann Reeves Jarvis


Julia Ward Howe

It was Julia Ward Howe, a famous writer, and reformer, who volunteered for the U.S. Sanitary Commission during the Civil War, providing clean conditions to hospitals and ensuring cleanliness during the care of sick and injured soldiers. “The Battle Hymn of the Republic,” her famous Civil War anthem, was composed in 1861 and first published in February 1862.

Around 1870, Julia Ward Howe proposed a “Mother’s Day for Peace” dedicated to the celebration of peace and the eradication of war. As expressed in what is known as the “Mother’s Day Proclamation” from 1870, Howe believed that mothers should come together to prevent the violence of war and the sacrifice of life since mothers of humanity alone bear and know the cost.

Howe’s version of Mother’s Day was observed in Boston and other locations for about 30 years but died a quick death in the years preceding World War II.


Julia Ward Howe

Anna M. Jarvis

After the death of her mother, Ann Reeves Jarvis, in 1905, Miss Anna Jarvis from Philadelphia became determined to commemorate her mother’s life and started campaigning for a national day to honor all mothers. “I hope and pray that someone, sometime, will find a memorial Mother’s Day commemorating her for the matchless service she renders to humanity in every field of life,” Ann Jarvis once said. “She is entitled to it.”

Anna’s ideas were less about public service and more about simply the role of motherhood and the sacrifices made in the home. People of note and various urban associations were bombarded by her with wires, letters, and in-person conversations. Groups both large and small were addressed. She wrote, printed, and distributed booklets celebrating her ideas on her own.

Ann Reeves Jarvis


The Tradition of Mother’s Day History

Although Mother’s Day in our society has more recent origins, early Mother’s Day celebrations can be traced back to observances held by ancient Greeks and Romans. In ancient Greece, Rhea, the wife of Cronus and mother of the gods, was honored. People from all over Greece would offer Rhea food, drinks, and flowers.

An alternate mother of the gods named Cybele, or Magna Mater, was also celebrated by the Romans, meaning Great Mother. The Romans even went as far as to dedicate a temple to her, and in the spring, they would participate in the Festival of Hilaria and give offerings to the goddess.

Today, most people celebrate their mothers by purchasing or making gifts and giving them a much-needed day off. Chocolates, flowers, and cards remain the most popular Mother’s Day gifts. The National Retail Federation estimates that Americans spent approximately $2.67 billion on holiday purchases, including the perennially popular Mother’s Day roses.


Mother's Day History


Mother’s Day Celebration in Different Countries – Mother’s Day History


Mother’s Day, or “Mors Dag,” is celebrated by Swedes on the last Sunday of each May. As per tradition, the event is characterized by local customs, including a morning greeting sung by small children in the house. The Swedish flag is also raised outside the home, and mothers are given a relaxing morning with good coffee and bread, accompanied by flowers and small gifts.


On the fourth Sunday during Loaned, or three weeks before Easter Sunday, Mother’s Day is observed in Ireland. It is generally commenced by attending a special mass in honor of Mary, Mother of Christ. The holiday has its roots in Ireland dating back hundreds of years. In ancient times, impoverished Irish children were sent to wealthy family homes to work as domestic servants. On the Fourth Sunday of Loaned, the children were allowed to return home for a while with their families, and their work was given a respite.


In Nepal, Mata Tirtha Aunsi is celebrated as Mother’s Day, which means “Mother Journey New Moon.” On this day, time spent with mothers is cherished, and those who have passed away are remembered.

Despite these differences, there is no correct way to celebrate Mother’s Day. People around the world come together to celebrate their mothers and motherhood with love and appreciation.

Costa Rica

Mother’s Day, also known as “Dia de la Madre,” is a significant occasion in Costa Rica, where the importance of family ties is prevalent in all aspects of daily life. It is celebrated on August 15 every year, and being a public holiday, it is taken seriously in Costa Rica. This date was chosen because it coincides with the Catholic feast of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary. Although many Costa Ricans are Catholic, the day is generally spent at home rather than at mass. Extended family members are invited over to partake in a lavish feast and to present mothers with roses and gifts.


In Ethiopia, a unique celebration called Antrosht is held to celebrate Mother’s Day. This celebration is held after the rainy season is over, and it lasts for three days. During this time, there is dancing, singing, and a lot of food. Daughters traditionally provide vegetables and cheese, while sons bring the meat.


When Russia was still known as the Soviet Union, mothers were honored on March 8, International Women’s Day. In 1998, Mother’s Day was officially established as the last Sunday of November. However, in spring, many people celebrate it.

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