Mother's Day: Understanding The History

Honoring mom is a tradition that dates back to ancient Greece.

As time marches on and children grow up, it's easy to drift away from the parents who raised you. But every year, there are days devoted entirely to celebrating the bond between parent and offspring — such as Sunday (May 9), Mother's Day.

Over the years, Mother's Day has evolved from a religious celebration into a more personal affair celebrated among families. The holiday actually dates all the way back to ancient Greece, when people would come together to worship Rhea, "mother" of the gods. The sacred aspect of Mother's Day carried through the centuries and across various practices of worship. During the 1600s, for example, Christians in Europe congregated for Mothering Day, which honored the Virgin Mary, and was modified eventually to include everyday mothers.

But the tradition of Mothering Day was discontinued when the earliest English settlers first came to America, only to re-emerge as Mother's Day shortly after the end of the American Civil War. A few decades later, Mother's Day was declared a national holiday on May 9, 1914.

Of course, Mother's Day isn't relegated solely to the United States. The holiday is celebrated internationally in a range of ways and on many different dates. Americans honor Mother's Day each year on the second Sunday of May, as they do in several other countries, including Australia, Canada, China and South Africa. But in other places, such as the United Kingdom and Ireland, it falls on changing designated days during the year.

Although the holiday is celebrated differently across the globe, there is one common bond that links the various takes on Mother's Day: No matter where we are, we devote an entire holiday to honoring the women who we know as "mom."

How will you celebrate Mother's Day? Let us know in the comments!