Thu. Oct 17th, 2019

Mother’s Day: What you need to know about its dark history

Happy Mother’s Day! Most countries – 96, to be exact – celebrate Mother’s Day on the second Sunday of May. This year, that day falls on 12 May.

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The holiday evolved over time and turned into the joyous day we know today. A day of gifts and quality time, and showing our mothers how much we appreciate them. But it wasn’t always a joyous occasion.

Mother’s Day origins

The idea of Mother’s Day was first suggested in 1872 in the United States, by suffragist and writer Julia Ward Howe. Even though she held an annual meeting in Boston, but her project eventually died out.

Then in 1908, West Virginia activist Anna Jarvis created the day when she campaigned for a national observance day in honour of her mother.

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Jarvis’s mother was a community health advocate who specialised in child rearing and public health issues. She went beyond and above the call of duty and Jarvis wanted to commemorate her hard work.

Unfortunately, the day was commercialised when President Woodrow Wilson declared as an official US holiday in 1914. It became a day of “public expression of our love and reverence for the mothers of our country.”

The commercialisation of Mother’s Day

The day became a mainstream celebration. During its first years, people celebrated by attending church, community activities and writing appreciative letters to their mothers.

However, then writing letters turned into sending cards, presents and flowers. Floral and card companies jumped on the opportunity to make a quick dime out of the holiday.

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Photo: Envato Elements

Jarvis became disillusioned by the turn of events. She said years later that she regretted stating the day and became resentful of the commercialisation. Jarvis organised boycotts and threatened to issue lawsuits against companies who degraded the day’s meaning.

She argued that people should appreciate and honour their mothers through handwritten letters expressing their love and gratitude, instead of buying gifts and pre-made cards.

Today, 111 years after Jarvis created it, experts estimate Mother’s Day to be worth around $25 billion. People around the world spend an average of $200 on their mothers.

Also read – Mother’s Day: The perfect gift delivered to her door

Customs and celebrations

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Photo: Envato Elements

Different cultures throughout the world incorporate day in local traditions, accompanied by certain traditions and practises. In most cases, it is custom to give flowers, gifts and cards or letters.

Mexico

Mother’s Day is filled with music, food, and celebrations. In addition, family members will arrange serenade of the song Las Mananitas by mariachi singers.

Brazil

Brazil commemorates the day with special children’s performances and church gatherings, which often culminate in large, multi-generational barbecues.

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Photo: Envato Elements

Germany

In Germany during the second World War, medals of gold, silver and bronze were awarded to women, based upon how many children were in the household. However, the practice died out after the war.

Peru

In addition to celebrating Mother’s Day in Peru in August, residents also celebrate the gifts of Mother Earth, or Pachamama, and ancient mythological goddess.

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Photo: Envato Elements

Ethiopia

A three-day Antrosht festival is dedicated to Ethiopian mothers. Furthermore, it is accompanied by large family gatherings and even larger feasts. Daughters bring vegetables, butter, and spices, while the sons bring various types of meat.

Serbia

Festivities in Serbia also span three days to acknowledge mothers and families fully. Children’s Day, Mothers Day and Father’s Day are all celebrated in one go, with various activities to commemorate familial bond.

Stuck for ideas of how to celebrate Mother’s Day this year? We have a few suggestions for you here.

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[H/t: National Geographic]

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