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How Mother's Day started: ancient & modern times

How Mother's Day started: ancient & modern times

Mother's Day, in its modern avatar, was started by Anna Jarvis, an American woman in West Virginia in 1907.

Although Mother's Day, in its modern avatar, was started by Anna Jarvis, an American woman, in West Virginia in 1907, Nepal has had the 'Mata Tirtha Aunsi' tradition for very long, possibly since the starting days of Hinduism.

Mata Tirtha Aunsi literally means 'Mother Pilgrimage fortnight' and it is celebrated in Nepal amid much fanfare. It is typically celebrated on the day of the new moon in the month of Baisakh (by Hindu calendar), which is usually May but can fall in April too. This tradition pre-dates the creation of the Western-inspired holiday.

In the Roman Catholic Church, the holiday is strongly associated with the 'Virgin Mary' tradition.

But the modern concept of Mother's Day evolved when Anna Jarvis, on May 12, 1907, held a memorial service to honour her mother and thereafter launched a campaign to get the day recognised as a holiday.

Anna's mother had founded Mothers' Day Work Clubs in five cities across the US to improve sanitary and health conditions. The Mothers' Day Work Clubs also treated wounds, fed and clothed both Union and Confederate soldiers with neutrality through the blooody American Civil War (1965).

Anna's efforts succeeded when Mother's Day was nationally recognised in America in 1914.

Ever since then, Mother's Day gained popularity across the world though in 1920, Anna would dissociate herself from the concept to protest against commercialisation of the concept.

first published:May 13, 2012, 10:15 IST