A day to celebrate mothers is a holiday oberved throughout the world, although not always in May.
But who started it? Did the tribes of prehistoric times gather flowers in the fields to bring to their moms back in
the caves? Did the Egyptians send papyrus cards to their moms?
The experts don't seem to have answers for all of these questions, but they can trace family celebrations honoring moms in Europe and the UK back several centuries.
Vintage Mother's Day card.
Back then, children as young as eight or nine would leave home to learn their trade as an apprentice or to become servants in the homes of the wealthy. These children usually were in neighboring towns, but transportation was hard to come by and expensive.
For most of the year they did not get to see their family. During Lent, before preparations for the Easter feasts required them to be busy and back at work, the young people would be allowed to return to their homes and families for a weekend. This became known as "going a-mothering."
Children walked the roads picking spring wildflowers to give to their mothers when they arrived back at their homes. They often
brought small gifts from the merchants or nobles they worked for as presents for the family, including the traditional simnel cake.
The Sunday of their return the whole family would go to church and present gifts to the mothers and offerings to the church. This was a day of feasting when all of the restrictions of Lent were put aside for the day...in a way it was the Easter celebration for the working classes.
This feast day became known as Mothering Sunday. After Mothering Sunday, the children would return
to their labors and would not visit home again until Christmas time.
As Europeans began settling in the New World, the Mothering Sunday tradition was all but lost until the 19th century. That's when Juliet Ward Howe issued her famous Mother's Day Proclamation that eventually led to American mothers being honored coast to coast and by the late 1900s Mother's Day had fairly become an institution with the appearance of the first Mother's Day cards.
Today, it's become a lot easier to honor them -- as 21st century families still gather to present mothers with flowers, serve them breakfast in bed, or treat them to a Mother's Day party with a special brunch or dinner celebration.
The tradition of gifts, flowers and festive meals has endured to become what we know as a modern Mother's Day, but around the Web you can explore more about how and why people celebrated Mother's Day long before there were e-cards and online florists ...