With its roots dating back to the ancient Greeks and Romans, Mother’s Day has gone through many changes over the ensuing centuries.
Various histories of the holiday point to the ancient Greek’s honouring of Rhea, the mother of gods and goddesses, as the first official celebration of mothers. The Romans paid homage to Cybele.
Much later, people in 17th century England celebrated Mothering Sunday on the fourth Sunday of Lent.
This holiday was mainly a chance for the country’s poor, who usually worked as live-in servants for wealthy families, to visit their mothers back home.
The servants would get Mothering Sunday off to spend the day with their mothers and would often bring with them a special ‘mothering cake’, a rich fruit cake.
In the US in 1872, Julia Ward Howe (who wrote the words to ‘The Battle Hymn of the Republic’) first suggested establishing a Mother’s Day dedicated to peace. She organized special Mother’s Day meetings in Boston, Massachusetts, every year.
The woman generally credited with the creation of the holiday in the US, though, is Anna Jarvis.
In 1907, she began a campaign to establish a day honouring mothers after the death of her own mother.
The first celebration took place that year at her mother’s church in West Virginia, on the second Sunday in May. This event marked the second anniversary of her mother’s death
Ms Jarvis also chose the white carnation as the symbol of Mother’s Day since it was her mother’s favourite flower. In addition, the white carnation was said to represent some of a mother’s virtues – purity, sweetness and enduring love.
These days, the wearing of a red carnation indicates the person’s mother is still alive, while a white one means she has passed away.
The holiday received official approval in 1914, after a Congressional resolution, followed by a proclamation by then-US president, Woodrow Wilson.
Mr. Wilson directed the government buildings and the people of the US to display the national flag on that day as a public expression of everyone’s love for their mothers.
Every year since, the sitting president has issued a similar proclamation for Americans to observe Mother’s Day.
The holiday is also celebrated in Denmark, Finland, Italy, Turkey, Australia, Belgium and, of course, Cayman.