Mother's Day: A Historical Synopsis
According to a researcher, “Some historians claim that the celebration of Mother's Day was held first by the ancient Greeks during the celebrations of the spring festival. These celebrations were a gift to the Mother Goddess – Rhea – who was the wife of the Father God - Kronus.
In ancient Rome, there was a similar celebration for adoring or revering the Earth Mother, Cybele. These latter celebrations started in about 250 BC. The religious festivals of the Romans were called Hilaria, and were held from March 15 to 18.
Mothering Sunday in England
It resembled the present celebrations of Mother's Day. It was called Mothering Sunday, or Refreshment Sunday, for it was held during the period of the great fasting (vernal equinox). It is said that the festivals held by the Romans to adore and revere the Roman Cybele were replaced by the Church with festivals to adore and revere Maryam (Mary), ay Allaah exalt her mention. Initially, this was done to encourage individuals to visit the church to which they belonged, as well as the mother church, carrying their offerings. In about 1600 CE, male and female youth of simple crafts, along with servants, started to visit their mothers on "Mothering Sundays", carrying gifts and foodstuff.
In the United States
In the United States, the story was quite different:
Anna Jarvis (1864-1948) was the founder of the idea and prospect of making Mother's Day a nationally recognized holiday in the United States. She never married, and was strongly attached to her mother. She was also a daughter of the monastery who studied in the Regular Andrew Sunday School of the church in Grafton, West Virginia.
Two years after the death of her mother, she embarked upon congressmen and senators in an attempt to announce Mother's Day as a nationally-recognized holiday in the country. Feeling that the children do not appreciate the efforts of their mothers during their lives, she hoped that this day would intensify the feelings of children for their mothers and fathers, and strengthen weakened and, sometimes, lost family ties.
The church honored Miss Anna Jarvisin Grafton, West Virginia, Philadelphia and Pennsylvania on May 10th, 1908, thereby marking the beginning of the celebrations of Mother's Day in the United States.
Carnations, particularly white ones, were her mother's favorite flowers for they are symbolic of goodness, purity and tolerance - all characteristics of a mother's love. Over time, the red carnation came to be a symbol of the mother's being alive, and the white of her being dead.
Oklahoma, West Virginia, witnessed the first official announcement of Mother's Day in the United States in 1910. By 1911, all the United States had recognized the celebration of Mother's Day. By this time too, the celebrations had extended to Mexico, Canada, China, Japan, Latin America and Africa. On May 10th, 1913, the American Congress officially approved the announcement of celebrating Mother's Day, and the first Sunday of May was chosen to celebrate it.
The Arab Mother's Day
The idea of celebrating Mother's Day among the Arabs began in Egypt at the hands of the brothers, Mustafa Ameen and ‘Ali Ameen, the founders of the press house of Akhbaar Al-Yawm. ‘Ali Ameen received a message from a mother in which she complained of her children's harsh and rude treatment, and how she suffered from their ingratitude. Coincidently, another mother visited Mustafa Ameen in his office and related to him her story. She had lost her husband while her children were still young, and did not marry again; rather, she devoted herself to them, double-acting as the father and the mother simultaneously. She took care of her children with all her power until they graduated from university and got married; each of them had his independent life, and no longer visited her except at far intervals. In this respect, both Mustafa and ‘Ali Ameen wrote in their famous column, Fikrah, a proposal to fix a day for mothers as a reminder of their favors, referring to the fact that this is practiced by the West, and that Islam encourages people to care for the mother. Consequently, they received a lot of letters of encouragement. Some suggested assigning a whole week instead of only a day to the mother. Others rejected the idea under the pretext that caring for the mother should continue all year round and not only on one day. However, the majority of readers supported the idea of fixing one day, and chose March 21st to be Mother's Day, which coincides with the vernal equinox (the first day of spring), in reference to its being a symbol of openness, purity and good feelings.
Egypt held the first celebration of Mother's Day on March 21st 1956. Then, from Egypt the idea extended to other Arab countries.
Some suggested changing the name of “Mother's Day” into “Family Day” so as to honor the father as well. However, this idea was not widely accepted, as people considered it to be an underestimation of the mother's right, and the accusation was hurled that the advocates of this idea “believe it to be too much” for the mother to have a day of her own. Until now, this day is celebrated in Arab countries via different mass media, which depict ideal mothers who have led great lives of struggle for the sake of their children in all respects, and honor them.
Little wonder then to know that most of those who celebrate this day are Jews and Christians and those who imitate them, demonstrating it to be a kind of care for the mother and women in general. Moreover, in the Arab world, some Masonic clubs celebrate this day, such as the Rotary Club and the Lions Club.
Mother's Day, i.e. March 21st, is the beginning of the year according to the Christian Copts, and the Persian New Year's Day of the Kurds.