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Mount Zion Sanctuary Assemblies

Mother’s Day & Father’s Day: Is not a One Day Celebration

Updated: Jul 5


Happy Mother's day card

The history of Mother's Day is centuries old and the earliest Mother's Day celebrations can be traced back to the spring celebrations of ancient Greece in honor of Rhea, the Mother of the Gods. During the 1600's, the early Christians in England celebrated a day to honor Mary, the mother of Christ. By a religious order the holiday was later expanded in its scope to include all mothers, and named as the Mothering Sunday. Celebrated on the 4th Sunday of Lent (the 40 day period leading up to Easter), "Mothering Sunday" honored the mothers of England.


As Christianity spread throughout Europe the celebration changed to honor the "Mother Church" - the spiritual power that gave them life and protected them from harm. Over time the church festival blended with the Mothering Sunday celebration. People began honoring their mothers as well as the church.


In the United States, Mother's Day was loosely inspired by the British day and was first suggested after the American Civil War by social activist Julia Ward Howe. She began promoting the idea of a "Mother's Day for Peace" to be celebrated on June 2, honoring peace, motherhood and womanhood. It was due to her efforts that in 1873, women in 18 cities in America held a Mother's Day for Pace gathering. Howe rigorously championed the cause of official celebration of Mother’s Day and declaration of official holiday on the day.

The celebrations died out when she turned her efforts to working for peace and women's rights in other ways. Howe failed in her attempt to get the formal recognition of a Mother's Day for Peace. It is a landmark in the history of Mother's Day in the sense that this was to be the precursor to the modern Mother's Day celebrations. To acknowledge Howe's achievements a stamp was issued in her honor in 1988.


It should be well to remember that Howe's idea was influenced by Ann Marie Reeves Jarvis, a young Appalachian homemaker who, starting in 1858, had attempted to improve sanitation through what she called "Mothers Friendship Day." In the 1900's, at a time when most women devoted their time solely on their family and homes, Jarvis was working to assist in the healing of the nation after the Civil War. She organized women throughout the Civil War to work for better sanitary conditions for both sides and in 1868 she began work to reconcile Union and Confederate neighbors. Ann was instrumental in saving thousands of lives by teaching women in her Mothers Friendship Clubs the basics of nursing and sanitation which she had learned from her famous physician brother James Reeves, M.D.


It was Jarvis' daughter, Anna Jarvis, who finally succeeded in introducing Mother’s Day in the sense as we celebrate it today.  Anna had spent many years looking after her ailing mother. This is why she preferred to remain a spinster. When her mother died in Philadelphia on May 9, 1905, Anna missed her greatly. So did her sister Elsinore whom she looked after as well. Anna felt children often neglected to appreciate their mother enough while the mother was still alive. Now, she intended to start a Mother's Day, as an honoring of the mothers. In 1907, two years after her mother's death, Anna Jarvis disclosed her intention to her friends who supported her cause wholeheartedly. So supported by her friends, Anna decided to dedicate her life to her mother's cause and to establish Mother's Day to "honor mothers, living and dead." She started the campaign to establish a national Mother's Day. She hoped Mother's Day would increase respect for parents and strengthen family bonds.


As a result of her efforts the first Mother’s Day was observed on May 10, 1908, by a church service honoring Late Mrs. Reese Jarvis, in the Andrews Methodist Church in Grafton, West Virginia, where she spent 20 years taking Sunday school classes. Another service was also conducted on the same date in Philadelphia where Mrs. Jarvis died, leaving her two daughters Anna and Elsinore. So it was more of a homage service for Mrs. Reeves Jarvis than a general one conducted in honor of motherhood. Nevertheless, this set the stage for the later Mother's Day observances held in the honor of motherhood. 


Following this, it gained a widespread popularity across the nation. The Mother's Day International Association came into being on December 12, 1912, to promote and encourage meaningful observances of the event. Anna's dream came true when on May 9, 1914, the Presidential proclamation declared the 2nd Sunday of May to be observed as Mother's Day to honor the mothers.


It was here in the first observance that the carnations were introduced by Miss Jarvis. Large jars of white carnations were set about the platform where the service was conducted. At the end of the exercise one of these white carnations was given to each person present as a souvenir of Mother's Day. All this was done because the late elder Jarvis was fond of carnations.


Nine years after the first official Mother's Day, commercialization of the U.S. holiday became so rampant that Anna Jarvis herself became a major opponent of what the holiday had become. While honored for her part in the growth of the holiday, Anna Jarvis' last life was miserable. As the observance of Mother's Day enjoyed increasing popularity, new dimensions came to be added to it. This made Anna Jarvis disillusioned with her own creation. Though the original spirit of honoring the mothers remained the same, what began as a religious service expanded quickly into a more secular observance leading to giving of flowers, cards, and gifts. And Anna Jarvis was unable to cope with this changing mode of expression. 


Today, Mother's Day is a day honoring mothers, celebrated on various days in many places around the world. It is the day when you acknowledge your mother’s contribution in your life and pay a tribute to her, often with flowers and gifts. It complements Father's Day, the celebration honoring fathers.


Father’s Day: A Mother’s Day Inspiration

The campaign to celebrate the nation’s fathers did not meet with the same enthusiasm–perhaps because, as one florist explained, “fathers haven’t the same sentimental appeal that mothers have.”


On July 5, 1908, a West Virginia church sponsored the nation’s first event explicitly in honor of fathers, a Sunday sermon in memory of the 362 men who had died in the previous December’s explosions at the Fairmont Coal Company mines in Monongah, but it was a one-time commemoration and not an annual holiday.


Slowly, the holiday spread. In 1916, President Wilson honored the day by using telegraph signals to unfurl a flag in Spokane when he pressed a button in Washington, D.C. In 1924, President Calvin Coolidge urged state governments to observe Father’s Day.


Today, the day honoring fathers is celebrated in the United States on the third Sunday of June: Father’s Day 2021 occurs on June 20. Many men, however, continued to disdain the day. As one historian writes, they “scoffed at the holiday’s sentimental attempts to domesticate manliness with flowers and gift-giving, or they derided the proliferation of such holidays as a commercial gimmick to sell more products–often paid for by the father himself.”


From the above abbreviated reading, we can see that Mother’s Day may have started out as something worthy to celebrate.  However, it has been shown that there were pagan festivities that did relate to honoring mothers.  Today, it’s a day celebrated in a way that forgets the essence of the initial thought and is caught up in the fanfare. There are other writings that acknowledge other persons who is said to have promoted this idea, i.e. Miss Mary Towles Sasseen.  (In the 1920s and into the 1930s a very bitter battle was being fought on proving who founded Mother's Day.)  We also realize that Father’s Day came into being because of Mother’s Day, almost as a second thought.                                                   


Mother’s and father’s do have a special place in our hearts and should not just be celebrated on one day, but always.  If it was not for our mothers & fathers, there would never be a me or you!!!!


Some Scriptures in the Bible for the Family:                                    
  • Jeremiah 10: 2-3a: “Thus saith the Lord, Learn not the way of the heathen, and be not dismayed at the signs of heaven; for the heathen are dismayed at them.  For the customs of the people are vain.”                                            

  • Exodus 20:12: Honour thy father and thy mother: that thy days may be long upon the land which the Lord thy God giveth thee.”                              

  • Romans 12:9-10: Let love be without dissimulation. Abhor that which is evil; cleave to that which is good.  Be kindly affectioned one to another with brotherly love; in honour preferring one another.”                                                                  

  • 1 Corinthians 16:14: Let all your things be done with charity.”               

  • Psalm 127:3: "Lo, children are an heritage of the Lord: and the fruit of the womb is his reward."                                                                                                                 

  • 1 Timothy 5:8: "But if any provide not for his own, and specially for those of his own house, he hath denied the faith, and is worse than an infidel." 


  • Proverbs 1:8-9: "My son, hear the instruction of thy father, and forsake not the law of thy mother: For they shall be an ornament of grace unto thy head, and chains about thy neck."                                                                     

  • Proverbs 22:6: "Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it."                                                                             

  • Proverbs 23:22-25: "Hearken unto thy father that begat thee, and despise not thy mother when she is old.  Buy the truth, and sell it not; also wisdom, and instruction, and understanding. The father of the righteous shall greatly rejoice: and he that begetteth a wise child shall have joy of him. Thy father and thy mother shall be glad, and she that bare thee shall rejoice."                                    

  • Proverbs 31:28: “Her children arise up, and call her blessed; her husband also, and he praiseth her.”                                                                              

  • 3 John 1:4: "I have no greater joy than to hear that my children walk in truth."                                                                                                                               

  • Ephesians 6:4: "And, ye fathers, provoke not your children to wrath: but bring them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord."                                       

  • Psalm 103:13: "Like as a father pitieth his children, so the Lord pitieth them that fear him."                                                                                                              

  • 2 Samuel 7:14: "I will be his father, and he shall be my son. If he commit iniquity, I will chasten him with the rod of men, and with the stripes of the children of men."                                                                                                                  

  • Proverbs 4:11-12: "I have taught thee in the way of wisdom; I have led thee in right paths. When thou goest, thy steps shall not be straitened; and when thou runnest, thou shalt not stumble."                                                                            

  • Malachi 4:6a: "And he shall turn the heart of the fathers to the children, and the heart of the children to their fathers."


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