Moms are the best things that ever happened in the world. On the second Sunday of May every year, we celebrate Mother's Day as an opportunity to express our love, respect and gratitude to our mothers for all the things she has done for us. Over the years, people have tried to consolidate the origin, history, legends and stories of this very special day. The roots of Mother's Day go back to the ancient festivals dedicated to mother goddess. In the ancient Greek empire, Rhea, the wife of Cronus, and mother of Gods and Goddesses, was worshipped and honored at this time every year as a spring celebration. In Rome too, Cybele, a mother Goddess, was worshipped, as early as in 250 BC. It was known as Hilaria, and it lasted for three days, called the Ides of March, that is from March 15 to March 18.
In more recent times, during the 1600s, England observed Mothering Sunday, or the Mid-Lent-Sunday, on the fourth Sunday in Lent. It was quite identical to the modern-day celebrations. In England, where small chapels of ease served the ordinary needs of the country parishioners, the people went on Mid-Lent Sunday to the 'Mother Church' of the parish, laden with offerings. The historians hypothesize that the Mother Church was substituted for Mother Goddess by the early church, who adopted the ancient Roman ceremonies in honor of Cybele to venerate Mother Mary. And this is why it became customary to visit the church on the day of baptism or on Mother's Day.
The custom began for those working away from homes to return to their homes on Mothering Sunday with small gifts, or, mothering cakes for their mothers. Back home, they presented their mothers with a cake and little nosegays of violets and other wild flowers gathered in the hedgerows as they walked along the country lanes. Entire families attended church together and enjoyed a dinner, consisting of roast lamb, or veal, at which the mother was treated as the 'queen of the feast'. Everything was done to make her happy. The custom of Mothering Sunday became more widespread during the 19th century. Any youth engaged in such act of duty was said to go 'mothering'. The day was celebrated with a festive mood appropriate to that day. The prominent dish was called furmety, made from wheat grains boiled in sweet milk, sugared, and spiced.
In the northern part of England and Scotland, there had been a custom of having steeped peas fried in butter, with pepper and salt. Pancakes, so prepared, were passed by the name of carlings. It was so popular that Carling Sunday became a local name for the day. The mothering cake also went by the name of Simnel cake. This was a very rich fruit cake, the richer the better. For, the Lenten fast dictated that it must be kept until Easter. First boiled in water and then baked, it sometimes had an almond icing. At other times, the crust was made of flour and water, colored with saffron. The word Simnel comes from the Latin Simila, which means high-grade wheat flour. The customs of Mothering Sunday in England started declining with the changing patterns of the society following the Industrial Revolution.
In the United States, Anna M. Jarvis (1864-1948) is credited with bringing in the celebration of Mother's Day. Anna Jarvis intended to start Mother's Day as an occasion for honoring mothers. The idea itself was so great that it did not take long to spread all over. Leaving aside the first observance, the official recognition that followed for the observance came in galore. The governor of West Virginia issued the first Mother's Day proclamation in 1910. Oklahoma celebrated it in the same year. It stirred the same way in as far west as the state of Washington. And by 1911, there was not a state in the Union that did not have its own observances for Mother's Day. Soon it crossed the national boundary, as people in Mexico, Canada, South America, China, Japan, and Africa joined the spree to celebrate a day for mother's love.
The immense popularity of the day led to the foundation of Mother's Day International Association on December 12, 1912. Its purpose was to promote and encourage meaningful observances of the event across the world. It was in 1934 that Postmaster General James A. Farley announced a stamp to commemorate Mother's Day. The stamp featured the famous painting "Arrangement in Grey and Black". The painting was a portrait of the mother of James Abbott McNeill Whistler, an English artist. It was brought to the United States as part of an exhibit in the year 1934.