Mother’s Day is a chance to celebrate and thank the women who have made an impact in our lives. Honoring mothers has been a tradition in many cultures for centuries, though today’s celebrations are a little different than the ancient Greek’s.
Festivals honoring mothers and mother goddesses date to ancient times. The Phrygians held a festival for Cybele, the Great Mother of the gods, as did the Greeks for the goddess Rhea. Likewise, the Romans adapted the practice to their own pantheon. Some countries have continued to observe ancient festivals; for example, Durga-puja, honoring the goddess Durga, remains an important festival in India.
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During the Middle Ages, those who had moved away from home would visit their home parishes and their mothers on Laetare Sunday, the fourth Sunday of Lent. This became “Mothering Sunday” in Britain, where it continued into modern times, although it has largely been replaced by Mother’s Day. Each mother would receive a simnel-cake (Latin for “fine flour”) and mothers would give a blessing to their children.
Mother’s Day, in its modern form, was organized by Anna Jarvis of Philadelphia. She held a memorial service on May 12, 1907, for her mother, who organized women’s groups to promote friendship and health. Within five years virtually every state was observing the day, and in 1914 President Woodrow Wilson made it a national holiday.
Over time the day was expanded to include others, such as grandmothers and aunts, who played mothering roles. What had originally been primarily a day of honor became associated with the sending of cards and the giving of gifts, however, and, in protest against its commercialization, Jarvis spent the last years of her life trying to abolish the holiday she had brought into being.
Although Jarvis had promoted the wearing of a white carnation as a tribute to one’s mother, the custom developed of wearing a red or pink carnation to represent a living mother or a white carnation for a mother who was deceased.
Mother’s Day is now celebrated in many countries around the world. Australia, Mexico, Denmark, Finland, Italy, Turkey, Belgium, Russia, China, Thailand, all have special celebrations to honor Mothers, but not in the same way or on the same day as the United States.
The youngest recorded mother is Lina Medina from Lima, Peru. She was five years old when she gave birth to a six pound boy. If you don’t believe it, click here to read the article on snopes.com!
Rosanna Dalla Corte holds the title of oldest mom; she gave birth to a baby boy when she was 63 years old in Italy in 1994.
The mom believed to have had the most kids is Mrs. Vassilyev of Russia, who gave birth to 69 children between 1725 and 1765. The modern world record for giving birth is held by Leontina Albina from San Antonio, Chile. Leontina claims to be the mother of 64 children, of which only 55 of them are documented. She is listed in the 1999 Guinness World Records but dropped from later editions.
Here are some numbers to remind you how hard mothers work:
- Chores: Women average 2.2 hrs / day, vs. 1.3 hrs / day for men
- Laundry: 88% is done by moms, totaling 330 loads of laundry & 5,300 articles of clothing each year
- Diaper Changes: 7,300 by baby’s 2nd birthday
- Moms take 2 minutes, 5 seconds (adds up to 3 40-hour work weeks each year!)
- Giving Attention: Preschooler requires mom’s attention once every 4 minutes or 210 times / day
- Preschooler moms spend 2.7 hrs / day on primary childcare, vs. 1.2 hours for dads
- First Year Baby Costs: $7,000 of baby items before 1st birthday
- Cost of Raising a Child: Middle-income families spend $242,070 to raise a kid to 18 (not include college!)
Just in case you haven’t had enough fun facts, here are a few more:
- In 2008, there were an estimated 85.4 million mothers in the United States.
- 25 was the average age of women in 2008 when they gave birth for the first time.
- Many of the sweaters worn by Mr. Rogers on the popular television show, Mr. Rogers’ Neighborhood, were actually knitted by his real mother.
- Some tribes of people, like the Assam in Africa, don’t call themselves families. They call themselves “maharis” or “motherhoods.”
- Japan’s Imperial family traces its descent from Omikami Amaterasu, the Mother of the World.
- Hindu scripture credits the Great Mother, Kali Ma, with the invention of writing through alphabets, pictographs and beautiful sacred images.
- Native American Indian women have long been honored with the name, “Life of the Nation” for their gift of motherhood to the tribes.
This and other information about Mother’s Day can be found at the links below: