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Why Do We Celebrate Mother’s Day? – ‘The Why’

Welcome to the latest edition of The Why.

Everywhere you look the media is pushing you telling you who to follow, what to watch and when to watch it.   You’re even sometimes told how to do it all.  Truth is, here at American Live Wire we do a bit of that too.  The big difference is we also tell you why.

You ask the questions.  We provide the answers.

“Why do we celebrate Mother’s Day?” you ask? Why do we in America and at least 80 other countries set aside the second Sunday in May for our maternal parent? Why is this the time we all at least attempt to tangibly acknowledge our appreciation of our moms?

mother's day

Happy Mother’s Day! / Image: DemocraticUnderground

“Why do we celebrate Mother’s Day?” We celebrate now to let moms know we love them because quite frankly too many people out there spend too much of their lives taking their moms for granted. Mind you, while the holiday is officially 100 years old this year, we did not always celebrate the day in the same manner. Mother’s Day has an unusual origin. Mother’s Day has gone through a modern metamorphosis.

“Why do we celebrate Mother’s Day?” Just as more recent immigrants to the US have brought their own traditions, so did those who once came from England. England has had a day called “Mothering Sunday” since the 1700s.

This was first celebrated during a time when many people were employed as household servants for the wealthy. Mothering Sunday was the day that rich folks attempted to fend for themselves and allowed their staff to go home to spend time with their moms. The Industrial Revolution, of course, changed both living patterns and employment opportunities thus putting an end to this specific custom. Still one Sunday was remained reserved for mothers as a holiday in the 1900s.

“Why do we celebrate Mother’s Day today?” History reveals that in the United States we first celebrated the day in 1908 when a woman named Anna Jarvis held a memorial service for her mom in Grafton, West Virginia. The original purpose was to honor “the person who has done more for you than anyone in the world.” Jarvis’ mother had been a pacifist during the Civil War tending to the wounds of soldiers from both the Confederate and Union armies.

Still, how did we get from a solemn memorial service to what we have today? “Why do we celebrate Mother’s Day officially?” According to online sources such as Wikipedia we officially celebrate it today because the United States Congress passed a law establishing “the second Sunday in May as Mother’s Day” on May 8, 1914.

The following day, then President Woodrow Wilson officially “issued a proclamation declaring the first national Mother’s Day” as the day Americans were to fly the flag to honor “mothers whose sons had died in war.” Less than a decade later, however, Mother’s Day had become so commercialized that Jarvis herself spent the rest of her money and life fighting to return the day to its noble roots.

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Have a Super Mother’s Day! / Image: FunChap

In fact, in 1948 she was arrested “for disturbing the peace while protesting against the commercialization” of the day and in that year before her death she stated that she “wished she would have never started the day because it became so out of control . . .” Despite her dying wish, Mother’s Day is currently one of the most commercial occasions in the US with Americans alone spending a reported “$2.6 billion on flowers, $1.53 billion on pampering gifts—like spa treatments—and another $68 million on greeting cards.”

“Why do we celebrate Mother’s Day?” Optimistically, we do so to continue a tradition of recognizing our mothers. Realistically, Mother’s Day become ‘big business” second perhaps only to Christmas in some markets. Don’t get discouraged though if you care about your mom and you don’t tell her any other time you sure should tell her you love her on Mother’s Day at the very least. After all, your mother should know.

“Why do we celebrate Mother’s Day?” Now you know.

Happy Mother’s Day!

You ask the questions.  We provide the answers.

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About Will Phoenix

W. Scott Phoenix, B.A., B.S. was born in Hawaii, raised in Pennsylvania and resides in California. He has been a published writer since 1978. His work has appeared (under various names) in numerous places in print and online including Examiner.com. He is a single parent of three children and has also worked as an actor, singer and teacher. He has been employed by such publications as the Daily Collegian and the Los Angeles Times.