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- October 24, 2020
New Zealand and Australia consider coronavirus COVID-19 'travel bubble'
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Mother‘s Day in the United States, or Mom‘s Day as it is sometimes known, is an annual holiday celebrating mothers, motherhood and maternal bonds in general, as well as the positive contributions they make to society in raising their children.
While Britons celebrated Mother‘s Day on March 22, the US occasion takes place every year on the second Sunday of May. This year it falls on Sunday, May 10.
But when did the US celebration of Mother‘s Day begin and how did it encourage the revival of ? Here is everything you need to know about the American celebration of motherly figures.
It was American social activist Anna Jarvis (1864-1948) from West Virginia who campaigned for an official day for mothers in the US. She is regarded as the "Mother of Mother‘s Day" and dedicated her life to lobbying for the holiday. She vowed to do so after her mother, Ann‘s, death, which fell on May 9 1905.
Ann Jarvis, who died in 1905, was a peace activist during the American Civil War and cared for soldiers from both sides of the conflict. She also set up Mother’s Day Work Clubs to address public health issues. It was this work that her daughter Anna wanted to continue by starting a day especially for mothers.
Jarvis had to fight hard to be heard as during the 1900s women‘s rights had not yet progressed enough for her to be taken seriously. She found it difficult to gain support in a male-dominated society.
But a breakthrough came on May 8, 1908 when she helped arrange the first ever Mother‘s Day service at Andrew‘s Methodist Episcopal Church in Grafton, West Virginia, which was attended by 407 children and their mothers. The church is now known as the International Mother’s Day Shrine and has been designated a historic landmark.
Although US Congress rejected her bid to make the day a national holiday in 1908, by 1911 people in all US states had started celebrating the day. In 1914, President Woodrow Wilson proclaimed the second Sunday in May to be ‘Mother‘s Day‘, to honour the day Anna Jarvis‘ mother died.
As the years passed, it became increasingly commercial and industries saw it as a way to make money from the public. Jarvis became concerned at this, saying "I wanted it to be a day of sentiment, not profit."
Anna Jarvis resented the commercialisation of Mother's Day Credit: Julian Simmonds
She also didn‘t like the selling of flowers and the use of greetings cards which she described as "a poor excuse for a letter you are too lazy to write". She organised boycotts of Mother‘s Day and threatened lawsuits against companies involved, eventually being arrested for protesting at a Mother‘s Day carnation sale by the American War Mothers.
In Britain the day is known as Mothering Sunday. Originating as a religious occasion much earlier than US Mother‘s Day, the UK celebration is always , exactly three weeks before and usually in the second half of March or early April.
From the 16th century, it was custom for people to return home to their families and their ‘mother’ church on Laetare Sunday – the middle of Lent. Those who did so were said to have gone "a-mothering".
The day soon became a holiday event, when young domestic servants were given a day off work to return home and visit their mothers and "mother" churches.
While the religious celebration was significant for many years, by the early 1900s it began to decline, following the Americanisation of Mother‘s Day.
But the day later took off again in Britain when vicar‘s daughter was inspired by a 1913 newspaper report of Jarvis‘ campaign and began a push for the day to be officially marked in England.
Smith, of Coddington, Nottinghamshire, founded the Mothering Sunday Movement and even wrote a booklet The Revival of Mothering Sunday in 1920. Interestingly, neither Smith nor Jarvis became mothers themselves.
By 1938 Mothering Sunday had become a significant celebration with Boy Scouts, Girl Guides and various parishes across Britain marking the day and communities adopting the imported traditions of American and Canadian soldiers during the war.
By the 1950s it was celebrated throughout Britain much the same as US Mother‘s Day and businesses realised the commercial opportunities, leading to the card and flower-heavy version of the day we celebrate today.
Armchair linguists tend to disagree on whether the apostrophe in Mother‘s Day should come before or after the "s". Those who argue it should fall after the "s" say the day is a celebration of all mothers and the punctuation should reflect that.
However, Anna Jarvis trademarked the term "Mother‘s Day" – with the apostrophe before the "s" – in 1912, saying the word should "be a singular possessive, for each family to honour its own mother, not a plural possessive commemorating all mothers in the world".
President Woodrow Wilson used this spelling when he announced the day in 1914; this means the correct version of the word is spelled with the apostrophe before the ‘s‘.
As the years passed, Jarvis‘s Mother‘s Day was adopted in countries all over the world. The majority of countries celebrate the occasion on the same day as Americans, including Japan, Italy, Germany, Greece, Canada, Australia, South Africa, India and China.
In many countries, including the US and Australia, it is custom to wear a carnation on the day. A colourful carnation signifies that a person‘s mother is living while a white carnation is used to honour a deceased mother.
Many other nations also celebrate mothers, but at different times of the year. In Norway, Mother‘s Day is always on the second Sunday of February, while in Thailand it‘s on August 12 – the same day as the Queen of Thailand‘s birthday.
Several countries, including Afghanistan, Belarus, Vietnam, Romania and Kosovo, celebrate the occasion on , which falls on March 8 every year.