It seems strange to consider that at one time, Americans didnít have a formal observance like Motherís Day to remind them of their omnipresent duty to honor and cherish the woman who not only brought them into this world, but more importantly nurtured and guided them as they grew to adulthood. But it was 100 years ago this weekend, on May 10, 1908, that the first Motherís Day observance was held in the United States ó during church services in Grafton, W. Va., and in Philadelphia, according to the Associated Press.
But the idea of setting aside the second Sunday of May for such tributes wasnít new. Civilized societies have been honoring mothers for centuries, going back to ancient Greece when festivities honored Rhea, the mother of the gods. Early Christians used the fourth Sunday of Lent to honor Mary, the mother of Christ. A religious order later extended the day to include all mothers, and called it Mothering Sunday. In 1872, Julia Ward Howe organized a day for mothers dedicated to peace.
Anna M. Jarvis, a Philadelphia school teacher, organized the events that led in 1914 to President Woodrow Wilsonís proclamation that the second Sunday in May would be set aside to honor mothers.
The concept has flourished in the United States, and has been adopted by many other nations as well. While the commercial aspects of the observance cannot be overlooked ó card designers, florists, restaurants and long-distance telephone companies have been extremely busy preparing for today ó the essence of the day is an often overlooked expression of appreciation to mothers everywhere. The title brings with it an awesome responsibility, and some women are better at discharging their duties than others in todayís complex and demanding world. But when love is a motherís motivation, children can flourish.
On this day, at least, this is your time to relax, Mom. Youíve earned it.