By Tim Leeds
Mother's Day is relatively new in the United States, historically speaking, but records of celebrating motherhood go back to the beginnings of recorded time.
The first recording of officially celebrating motherhood in the United States is in 1872, when Julia Ward Howe, the lyricist of "The Battle Hymn of the Republic," suggested Mother's Day as a day dedicated to peace. While her idea did not encompass the nation, Howe is credited with yearly celebrations in Boston.
Ana Jarvis, who was born in West Virginia in 1864, is acknowledged with starting the movement resulting in Mother's Day in the United States. Jarvis often heard her mother say she hoped someone would found a mother's day, which she felt would help end the fighting and hatred which still prevailed following the Civil War.
After her mother's death, Jarvis persuaded the minister of a church in her home town of Grafton, W. Va., to hold a mother's day celebration on the second anniversary of her death, May 12, 1907. This service is the first recorded Mother's Day celebration in the country.
Jarvis campaigned to promote a national Mother's Day to be held on the second Sunday in May. By 1909, most states in the nation were celebrating the day. On May 9, 1914, President Woodrow Wilson signed a proclamation declaring the second Sunday in May Mother's Day across the country.
Jarvis proceeded to organize the International Mother's Day Association, and by her death in 1948, more than forty countries were observing Mother's Day.
The history of a day for mothers goes much farther back than 1872. Honoring mothers goes back to the mythologies of the first recorded histories, and may be as old as mankind itself.
Most ancient mythologies have a deity represented and worshiped as a mother goddess. The importance of motherhood was reflected in their religions.
The Phrygians, who moved into the area now occupied by Turkey in about 1200 B.C., held a yearly festival to honor, Cybele, the mother of all of their gods. This is among the earliest recorded celebrations of motherhood. The ancient Greeks also honored Rhea, the mother of the gods in spring celebrations, and the Romans honored Magna Mater as the mother of the gods in their mythology with a three-day celebration every year.
A motherhood tradition began somewhere between 1400-1600 A.D. in England. The fourth Sunday in Lent was celebrated as "Mothering Sunday," where workers who often had to move far from their homes were allowed and encouraged to return to honor their mothers. This tradition was lost in the colonization of the United States until Jarvis revived and altered it to the modern Mother's Day.
There are a variety of dates and traditions to honor mothers throughout the world. Some countries, such as Denmark, Finland, Turkey, Japan, Australia and Belgium also celebrate on the second Sunday in May.
In India, the members of Hinduism celebrate a 10-day festival called Durga Purja in October. In Spain and Portugal, there is a celebration closely linked with the Catholic Church on Dec. 8. Tribute is paid to the Virgin Mary, and children also honor their mothers on that day. In Sweden, the Swedish Red Cross sells tiny plastic flowers, the proceeds from which is used to fund vacations for mothers with large families on a family holiday held the last Sunday in May. France also celebrates Mother's Day on the last Sunday in May. It is much like a birthday, with a large family dinner held and a cake presented to the mother after the meal.
While different countries celebrate the day at different times and in different ways, the purpose is about the same. People wish to honor the tradition of motherhood and show their love and caring for their own mothers.
In Havre, Mother's Day is a busy time for many restaurants and retailers, as well as families. Flowers and gifts are purchased, and many husbands and children who don't prepare a dinner for the mother of the family treat her to a special meal out.
Janine Donoven, owner of J. M. Donoven Designs, said this has been a busy time for her. She said mother's rings have been a popular item, as have mother and child pendants, crystal figurines and having pendants and lockets engraved. She said the hottest thing this year is a new item, Hush-A-Byes, a 10-karat gold pacifier with a birthstone as the nipple. She said the distributor has had difficulty keeping up with the demand for the item.
Donoven said this is a good time to do something special for the mother of the family.
"We do recommend that people come in and spoil their moms," she said.
Donna Ruff, manager of Heirloom Jewelers, said they have been very busy. She said customers are buying a variety of items to give to the mother of their family, such as watches and pearls. She said it's been busier than in the past, even with the rain and snow slowing traffic Thursday.
The florists in town have been keeping busy, as well.
"It's pretty much crazy," said Hoss Loendorf, owner of Hillside Floral and Gifts.
He said the stereotypes for typical Mother's Day gifts seem to have disappeared. People are buying bouquets, silk flowers, plants, balloons, candy pretty much anything, he said.
Loendorf said they will be pretty busy Saturday. He said customers have been calling in to pre-order arrangements, and the delivery trucks running pretty heavily.
Lynnette Friede, co-owner of Milam Floral, said their coolers are already pretty full with both arrangements people can choose and buy when they come in and pre-ordered arrangements. She said they are selling lots of FTD and TeleFloral arrangements, basic arrangements, roses and hanging planters. She said she has lots of people keeping busy with the arrangements.
"Things are going great," said Jackey Wassmann, owner of the Petal Pusher. "It's total chaos, but it's great."
She said they are mostly selling fresh flowers, lots of bouquets for centerpieces. She said it's very busy, busier than last year.
"In fact," she said, "there's five people working and we're hopping. It's wonderful. We didn't realize we had so many mothers."
Things get pretty busy in the restaurants in town, too. Jim Welter of the Iron Horse Restaurant said they have to have extra staff on hand.
"Cooks and waitresses, all that good stuff," he said, "so we can get them in and out."
He said they serve a breakfast and lunch buffet, and they're usually busy from the start and steady through the day. He said they often give away corsages to the mothers to help celebrate the day.
Beth Davidson of Uncle Joe's said Mother's Day is the biggest day for them. She said on Father's Day, the mothers usually cook a meal, but on Mother's Day, the fathers seem to prefer going out.
She said the celebration usually starts on Saturday for them, with people trying to avoid the rush on Sunday. She said that on Sunday it usually starts at lunch time and runs straight through to closing, with whole families coming in.
Happy Mother's Day to all the mothers in Havre and on the Hi-Line, and in the world!