Mother’s Day Has a Fascinating History


By Paul Leavens

While versions of the holiday existed in the 19th century, the modern Mother’s Day originated in 1908 when Anna Jarvis held a memorial for her mother at her church in Grafton, West Virginia. Jarvis’s mother, Ann, was a Civil War peace activist who tirelessly nursed Northern and Southern soldiers. (Ann Jarvis had also championed a version of Mother’s Day in the 1800s.) Anna passionately called for America to designate a national holiday that remembered her mom and all mothers.

In 1914, President Woodrow Wilson finally signed a national proclamation for Mother’s Day. Unfortunately, commercialization of the holiday by greeting card companies, florists, and candy makers quickly followed. Anna Jarvis resented this crass commercialization and publicly protested against those who tried to profit. In the end, Anna worked to rescind the holiday.

The celebration of moms and motherhood is ancient. Both the Greeks and Romans held festivals to mother goddesses. In the 16th century, European believers (Catholic and Protestant) created “Mothering Sunday” during Lent for parishioners to recognize the “mother” church of their baptism. Mothers were also honored with presents and flowers.

Moms are also honored in the Scriptures. Adam named his mate Eve, which comes from a Hebrew word that means “life.” In Proverbs 23:22, we’re told to “not despise your mother when she is old.” Jesus respected his mother; while hanging on the cross, Jesus instructed John to care for Mary as though she were his own mother. The Epistle writers challenged believers to obey their mothers.

Moms matter, and it’s important we show honor and respect for them. We mustn’t forget why we commemorate Mother’s Day.

It’s the same with the Lord’s Supper. In 1 Corinthians 11, Paul cautioned the Corinthians against consuming the bread and drinking the cup in an unworthy, forgetful manner. To do so, he taught, was dishonorable and disrespectful, sinning against the body and blood of Jesus (1 Corinthians 11:27).

Today, as we celebrate our mothers, let us honor Jesus with even higher reverence. After all, we all were born by blood into this life through our earthly moms, but we’re reborn by the Spirit into eternal life through Jesus Christ.

This meal is how we remember him. Let us remember and honor.

Dr. Paul Leavens is minister of the Christian Church in Lindsay, 120 N. Frazier Ave. To contact him, call 559-562-3743 or visit

This column is not a news article but the opinion of the writer and does not reflect the views of The Foothills Sun-Gazette newspaper.

Start typing and press Enter to search