A card buyer grabs a card for Mother's day May 10, 2000 in the Papyrus card store in New York's Grand Central Station. Mother's day will be celebrated this Sunday, May 14, 2000. (Photo : Photo by Chris Hondros/ Newsmakers/ Getty Images)
Long before the flower bouquets and Sunday brunches, and well before it meant scrambling to the nearest Hallmark store for a last-second card, Mother's Day was simply about honoring the sacrifices mothers make for their children.
Initial celebrations can be traced back to the Romans and Greeks, who paid homage to goddesses Cybele and Rhea with three-day-long spring festivals. They grew to irritate the Roman government enough that Cybele's followers were banished from Rome.
Some 250 years later, European Christians expanded Mother's Day - or "Mothering Sunday"- to include all mothers. It grew from honoring the Virgin Mary on the fourth Sunday of Lent to making fruit cakes and other fruit-filled pastries for women all over the world.
The customer nearly died out in the 19th century due to a loss in popularity. Mother's Day wouldn't even be recognized in the United States today had it not been the work of Julia Ward Howe and Anna Jarvis.
Howe - an activist, writer, and poet - passionately fought for a holiday dedicated to mothers during the 1800s. She penned a Mother's Day Proclamation in 1870 and held numerous meetings in Boston, championing the ideas that would become the holiday we celebrate today.
Mother's Day didn't gain full support until Jarvis started a massive letter campaign urging politicians to adopt a day dedicatedly solely to honoring motherhood. Jarvis argued that national holidays steered toward male achievements, adding that Americans were growing negligent toward their mothers.
Jarvis' hard work paid off when, in 1914, President Woodrow Wilson signed a joint resolution marking the second Sunday in May as Mother's Day. Jarvis not only fulfilled her goal, but that of her own mother, Anna Marie Reeves, who started the "Mother's Day Work Clubs" in the years preceding the Civil War.
Today, Mother's Day is celebrated all over the world, though not always on the same day. In Spain, takes place during December's Feast of the Immaculate Conception, and Thailand natives recognize Mother's Day in August on the birth date of the current queen.
"Mama was my greatest teacher, a teacher of compassion, love and fearlessness. If love is sweet as a flower, then my mother is that sweet flower of love."
- Stevie Wonder, 25-time Grammy Award-winner and Rock and Roll Hall of Famer
"Mother's love is peace. It need not be acquired, it need not be deserved."
- Eric Fromm, German author and social psychologist
"A mother's happiness is like a beacon, lighting up the future but reflected also on the past in the guise of fond memories."
- Honore de Balzac, French novelist and playwright
"Children are the anchors that hold mother to life."
- Sophocles, Ancient Greek author and poet
"Biology is the least of what makes someone a mother."
- Oprah Winfrey, billionaire producer, actress, and philanthropist
"All that I am, or hope to be, I owe to my angel mother."
- Abraham Lincoln, 16th president of the United States
Notable Bible Verses
"Children, obey our parents in the Lord, for this is right. 'Honor you father and mother' - which is the first commandment with a promise - 'that it may go well with you and that you may enjoy long life on the earth."
- Ephesians 6: 1-3
"Honor your father and your mother, so that you may live long in the land the LORD your God is giving you."
- Exodus 20: 12
"Train a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not turn from it."
- Proverbs 22:6
"May she who gave you birth be happy."
- Proverbs 23:25
"She watches over the affairs of her household and does not eat the bread of idleness. Her children arise and call her blessed; her husband also, and he praises her: 'Many women do noble things, but you surpass them all.' Charm is deceptive, and beauty is fleeting; but a woman who fears the LORD is to be praised."
- Proverbs 31: 27-30