The history of Mother's Day is centuries old and goes back to the times of ancient Greeks, who held festivities to honor Rhea, the mother of the gods. The early Christians celebrated the Mother's festival on the fourth Sunday of Lent to honor Mary, the mother of Christ. Interestingly, later on a religious order stretched the holiday to include all mothers, and named it as the Mothering Sunday. The English colonists settled in America discontinued the tradition of Mothering Sunday because of lack of time. In 1872 Julia Ward Howe organized a day for mothers dedicated to peace. It is a landmark in the history of Mother's Day.
In 1907, Anna M. Jarvis (1864-1948), a Philadelphia schoolteacher, began a movement to set up a national Mother's Day in honor of her mother, Ann Maria Reeves Jarvis. She solicited the help of hundreds of legislators and prominent businessmen to create a special day to honor mothers. The first Mother's Day observance was a church service honoring Anna's mother. Anna handed out her mother's favorite flowers, the white incarnations, on the occasion as they represent sweetness, purity, and patience. Anna's hard work finally paid off in the year 1914, when President Woodrow Wilson proclaimed the second Sunday in May as a national holiday in honor of mothers.
Slowly and gradually the Mother's day became very popular and gift giving activity increased. All this commercialization of the Mother's day infuriated Anna as she believed that the day's sentiment was being sacrificed at the expense of greed and profit.
Regardless of Jarvis's worries, Mother's Day has flourished in the United States. Actually, the second Sunday of May has become the most popular day of the year. Although Anna may not be with us but the Mother's day lives on and has spread to various countries of the world. Many countries throughout the world celebrate Mother's Day at various times during the year, but some such as Denmark, Finland, Italy, Turkey, Australia, and Belgium also celebrate Mother's Day on the second Sunday of May.
The early Christians in England celebrated the Mother's festival on the fourth Sunday of Lent (the 40 day period leading up to Easter) to honor Mary, the mother of Christ. Interestingly, later on a religious order stretched the holiday to include all mothers, and named it as the Mothering Sunday. People working out of their homes were expected to return to the "mother" church (the spiritual power that gave them life and protected them from harm). It also became an occasion for family reunions.