Marvellous May: Celebrating the Superwomen of Motherhood

Delving into the annals of history, we encounter a tapestry interwoven with celebrations of mothers and the essence of motherhood.


Mother figures, those extraordinary individuals who assume diverse forms, exist in a realm beyond conventional notions of biological ties. They transcend dimensions of shape, size, and relationships, for their deserving recognition on this extraordinary day extends far beyond the confines of childbirth. These revered figures may encompass foster mothers, devoted aunties, cherished friends of our own mothers, or even beloved sisters. They are the ones who nurtured us during our tender years, weathered the tempestuous storms of our moody adolescence, and provided a steadfast shoulder to lean on in moments of emotional vulnerability. Through thick and thin, they have stood firmly by our side. It is for these remarkable reasons, among many others, that we unite in celebrating these extraordinary women on the universally revered occasion of Mother’s Day—a timeless tradition honoured across the globe.

Unveiling its Origins

Delving into the annals of history, we encounter a tapestry interwoven with celebrations of mothers and the essence of motherhood. Echoes of such commemorative practices can be traced back to the ancient civilizations of the Greeks and Romans, who orchestrated grand festivals as a tribute to the mother goddesses Rhea and Cybele. Yet, as we traverse the corridors of time, we discover a more tangible precursor to the modern incarnation of Mother’s Day—an early Christian festival known as “Mothering Sunday.”

Once hailed as a significant tradition in the United Kingdom and certain regions of Europe, this jubilant celebration found its rightful place on the fourth Sunday of Lent (a period of 40 days during which Christians remember the events leading up to and including the death of Jesus Christ). Originally intended as an occasion for the faithful to congregate at their “mother church”—the primary place of worship situated in their local vicinities—Mothering Sunday exuded a sense of profound spirituality. Yet, as the wheels of time turned, this tradition underwent a metamorphosis, gradually assuming a more secular guise. It became customary for children to express their gratitude to their mothers through the presentation of vibrant flowers and other heartfelt tokens. Alas, as the tides of societal inclinations shifted, this cherished custom slowly waned in popularity before eventually merging with the American observance of Mother’s Day during the transformative decades of the 1930s and 1940s.

Pioneers and Evolution of Mother’s Day

In the vast tapestry of history, two remarkable women, Ann Reeves Jarvis and Julia Ward Howe, stand as catalysts for the origins of Mother’s Day in the United States during the 19th century. Prior to the tumultuous era of the Civil War, Ann Reeves Jarvis, hailing from West Virginia, took the initiative to establish “Mothers’ Day Work Clubs.” These clubs became beacons of enlightenment, empowering local women with knowledge on nurturing and caring for their beloved children.

As the nation grappled with the aftermath of the Civil War, these clubs transformed into an emblem of unity within a divided region. In 1868, Jarvis orchestrated the inspiring “Mothers’ Friendship Day,” where mothers from both Union and Confederate backgrounds assembled to foster reconciliation, transcending the wounds of the past.

Parallel to Jarvis’ efforts, Julia Ward Howe, an ardent abolitionist and suffragette, left an indelible mark on the path to Mother’s Day. In 1870, Howe penned the powerful “Mother’s Day Proclamation,” issuing a clarion call to mothers, urging them to join forces in championing world peace. Her impassioned campaign led to the proposal of a “Mother’s Peace Day” to be celebrated every 2nd of June, a significant step toward recognizing the profound impact of motherhood on society.

In the archives of Mother’s Day pioneers, Juliet Calhoun Blakely, a fervent temperance activist, ignited a local Mother’s Day observance in Albion, Michigan, during the 1870s. Meanwhile, the combined efforts of Mary Towles Sasseen and Frank Hering in the late 19th and early 20th centuries further propelled the cause of establishing a dedicated day to honour mothers. Hering’s unwavering dedication even earned him the title “the father of Mother’s Day.”

The journey of Mother’s Day towards national recognition reached a defining moment with the indomitable Anna Jarvis, daughter of Ann Reeves Jarvis. Following her mother’s passing in 1905, Anna conceived the idea of Mother’s Day as a heartfelt tribute to the immense sacrifices made by mothers for their children. With the support of John Wanamaker, a visionary Philadelphia department store owner, Anna organized the first official Mother’s Day celebration in May 1908. The event took place at a Methodist church in Grafton, West Virginia, while simultaneously thousands flocked to a grand Mother’s Day gathering at Wanamaker’s retail emporium in Philadelphia.

Buoyed by the success of her inaugural celebration, Anna Jarvis, although never experiencing motherhood herself, embarked on a tireless crusade to elevate Mother’s Day to a national holiday. She challenged the prevailing bias of American holidays that predominantly glorified male achievements and spearheaded an extensive letter-writing campaign to newspapers and influential politicians, advocating for the establishment of a dedicated day to honour motherhood.

By 1912, numerous states, towns, and churches had embraced Mother’s Day as an annual tradition, and Anna Jarvis founded the Mother’s Day International Association to champion her cause. a cherished occasion to honour the remarkable women who shape our lives with love and devotion.

The year 1912 witnessed the widespread embrace of Mother’s Day as an annual tradition, with countless states, towns, and churches joining in the celebration. Guiding this movement with unwavering resolve, Anna Jarvis established the Mother’s Day International Association, becoming the driving force behind its advocacy. Finally, in 1914, her relentless determination bore fruit when President Woodrow Wilson officially designated the second Sunday in May as Mother’s Day.

A Bittersweet Legacy

Anna Jarvis, the visionary behind Mother’s Day, initially conceived it as an intimate and personal celebration, a sincere tribute shared among mothers and their families. She envisioned a heartfelt exchange symbolized by the delicate white carnation, with visits to loved ones and attendance at church services. However, as the nation embraced Mother’s Day on a grand scale, its soaring popularity attracted the attention of opportunistic florists, card companies, and merchants, eager to capitalize on its commercial potential.

While Jarvis initially collaborated with the floral industry to elevate the prominence of Mother’s Day, her joy soon turned to disappointment as she witnessed the holiday being swept away by rampant commercialization. With unwavering determination, she fearlessly voiced her opposition, asking people to resist the urge to purchase flowers, cards, and confections associated with Mother’s Day.

Fuelled by her deep convictions, Jarvis launched a passionate campaign against those who sought to profit from the holiday. She directed her criticism towards confectioners, florists, and even charitable organizations that exploited Mother’s Day for personal gain. Driven by her unwavering commitment to preserving the sanctity of the holiday, she initiated numerous lawsuits against those who misused the name “Mother’s Day,” even at the cost of depleting her own personal wealth.

By the time of her passing in 1948, Jarvis had completely disowned the holiday she once championed. She actively lobbied the government to remove Mother’s Day from the American calendar, convinced that its original meaning and authenticity had been irreversibly tarnished.

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In her tireless pursuit of safeguarding the true essence of Mother’s Day, Anna Jarvis left behind a bittersweet legacy. Though her heartfelt intentions for a sincere celebration were overshadowed by rampant commercialization, her unyielding dedication serves as a poignant reminder of the profound depth and significance that Mother’s Day holds within our hearts.

A Global Tapestry of Celebrations

Mother’s Day, a cherished occasion, is commemorated around the world, with each country adding its unique touch to the festivities. Diverse traditions and customs shape the way this special day is observed in different parts of the globe.

In Thailand, for instance, Mother’s Day takes place in August, coinciding with the birthday of the country’s esteemed queen, Sirikit. It is a time when the nation unites to honour both their own mothers and the queen, celebrating their love and gratitude through various heartfelt gestures.

Ethiopia embraces an alternative observance of Mother’s Day with Antrosht, a vibrant multi-day celebration that occurs during the fall season. Families come together to sing joyful songs and partake in a lavish feast, paying homage to the essence of motherhood and the profound role it plays in their lives.

In the United States, Mother’s Day has evolved into a tradition of expressing love and appreciation through the exchange of gifts and flowers. It has become a significant holiday for consumer spending, with families eagerly embracing the opportunity to pamper and honour their mothers. Additionally, households often grant mothers a well-deserved respite from their daily chores and responsibilities, granting them a day of rest and relaxation.

Throughout history, Mother’s Day has also served as a platform for launching political or feminist causes. In 1968, Coretta Scott King, the esteemed wife of Martin Luther King Jr., utilized Mother’s Day to host a march in solidarity with underprivileged women and children, emphasizing the need for support and equality. Similarly, during the 1970s, women’s groups seized the holiday as an opportune moment to advocate for equal rights and improved access to childcare.

As the world comes together to celebrate Mother’s Day, the tapestry of customs and initiatives that weave throughout different cultures exemplify the universal admiration and gratitude for the remarkable women who shape our lives. This cherished occasion stands as a testament to honouring the extraordinary women and their unwavering dedication.





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