Each year, families in El Cerrito, Albany, and El Sobrante and across the country spend the second Sunday of May honoring moms. Our staff at Sunset View celebrates this annual holiday with their families and loved ones. Nowadays, many families observe Mother’s Day, but this wasn’t always the case. Have you ever wondered how the holiday came to be? In the U.S., what we know as Mother’s Day dates to the 19th century, but the origins of honoring mothers date back much earlier.

Here’s more about the origins of Mother’s Day:


Ancient origins of the holiday

In ancient Greece, citizens celebrated Rhea, the Greek goddess of fertility and motherhood, each spring. Ancient Romans celebrated similarly with festivals honoring Cybele, a mother goddess. The early Christian festival known as “Mothering Sunday” is closer to the holiday we celebrate today. This day was traditionally reserved for children, primarily daughters, to take time off work to visit their mothers. The holiday fell on the fourth Sunday of Lent and celebrated the Virgin Mary, Christianity’s most prominent maternal presence. Over time, these ancient festivals morphed into modern-day celebrations of motherhood in which children give their mothers flowers, handwritten cards, and other gifts of appreciation.


Mother’s Day in the U.S.

In 1905, Anna Jarvis of Philadelphia wished to memorialize her recently deceased mother, Ann Reeves Jarvis, a social activist and community organizer. Anna campaigned for a nationally recognized holiday for all mothers by soliciting civic organizations with telegrams, letters, and in-person speeches. In May of 1907, a memorial service was held in honor of her mother at the Methodist Church in Grafton, West Virginia. On May 10 the following year, another service was held in honor of all mothers, and the modern iteration of Mother’s Day was born. In the U.S., we still celebrate Mother’s Day on the second Sunday in May.


Mother’s Day around the world

Though the second Sunday in May is the most common date for Mother’s Day celebrations worldwide, many countries celebrate on a later date in May, depending on their different traditions and histories. For example, Russians celebrate Mother’s Day on the final Sunday of November. Some countries even serve specific foods on the holiday, like fruit cake and roasts in the United Kingdom.


This year, we look forward to honoring the love and dedication of mothers. Happy Mother’s Day!