Contrary to popular belief, Mother’s Day was not conceived and fine-tuned in the boardroom of Hallmark. The earliest tributes to mothers date back to the annual spring festival the Greeks dedicated to Rhea, the mother of many deities, and to the offerings ancient Romans made to their Great Mother of Gods, Cybele. Christians celebrated this festival on the fourth Sunday in Lent in honor of Mary, mother of Christ. In England this holiday was expanded to include all mothers and was called Mothering Sunday.
In the United States, Mother’s Day started nearly 150 years ago, when Anna Jarvis, an Appalachian homemaker, organized a day to raise awareness of poor health conditions in her community, a cause she believed would be best advocated by mothers. She called it “Mother’s Work Day.”
Fifteen years later, Julia Ward Howe, a Boston poet, pacifist, suffragist, and author of the lyrics to the “Battle Hymn of the Republic,” organized a day encouraging mothers to rally for peace, since she believed they bore the loss of human life more harshly than anyone else.
In 1905 when Anna Jarvis died, her daughter, also named Anna, began a campaign to memorialize the life work of her mother. Legend has it that young Anna remembered a Sunday school lesson that her mother gave in which she said, “I hope and pray that someone, sometime, will found a memorial mother’s day. There are many days for men, but none for mothers.”
Anna began to lobby prominent businessmen like John Wannamaker, and politicians including Presidents Taft and Roosevelt to support her campaign to create a special day to honor mothers. At one of the first services organized to celebrate Anna’s mother in 1908, at her church in West Virginia, Anna handed out her mother’s favorite flower, the white carnation. Five years later, the House of Representatives adopted a resolution calling for officials of the federal government to wear white carnations on Mother’s Day. In 1914 Anna’s hard work paid off when Woodrow Wilson signed a bill recognizing Mother’s Day as a national holiday.
At first, people observed Mother’s Day by attending church, writing letters to their mothers, and eventually, by sending cards, presents, and flowers. With the increasing gift-giving activity associated with Mother’s Day, Anna Jarvis became enraged. She believed that the day’s sentiment was being sacrificed at the expense of greed and profit. In 1923 she filed a lawsuit to stop a Mother’s Day festival, and was even arrested for disturbing the peace at a convention selling carnations for a war mother’s group. Before her death in 1948, Jarvis is said to have confessed that she regretted ever starting the mother’s day tradition.
Despite Jarvis’s misgivings, Mother’s Day has flourished in the United States. In fact, the second Sunday of May has become the most popular day of the year to dine out, and telephone lines record their highest traffic, as sons and daughters everywhere take advantage of this day to honor and to express appreciation of their mothers.
What is Easter?:
Origins of Easter:
Easter, Judaism, and Passover:
Early Easter Celebrations:
Easter Celebrations in Eastern Orthodox & Protestant Churches:
Meaning of Easter in Modern Christianity:
There is a deep connection between Easter and baptism because during the time of early Christianity, the season of Lent was used by catechumens (those who wanted to become Christians) to prepare for their baptisms on Easter day – the only day of the year when baptisms for new Christians were performed. This is why the blessing of the baptismal font on Easter night is so important today.
The History of Valentine’s Day
The origins of Valentine’s Day trace back to the ancient Roman celebration of Lupercalia. Held on February 15, Lupercalia honored the gods Lupercus and Faunus, as well as the legendary founders of Rome, Romulus and Remus.
In addition to a bountiful feast, Lupercalia festivities are purported to have included the pairing of young women and men. Men would draw women’s names from a box, and each couple would be paired until next year’s celebration.
While this pairing of couples set the tone for today’s holiday, it wasn’t called “Valentine’s Day” until a priest named Valentine came along. Valentine, a romantic at heart, disobeyed Emperor Claudius II’s decree that soldiers remain bachelors. Claudius handed down this decree believing that soldiers would be distracted and unable to concentrate on fighting if they were married or engaged. Valentine defied the emperor and secretly performed marriage ceremonies. As a result of his defiance, Valentine was put to death on February 14.
After Valentine’s death, he was named a saint. As Christianity spread through Rome, the priests moved Lupercalia from February 15 to February 14 and renamed it St. Valentine’s Day to honor Saint Valentine.
What’s Cupid Got to Do with It?
According to Roman mythology, Cupid was the son of Venus, the goddess of love and beauty. Cupid was known to cause people to fall in love by shooting them with his magical arrows. But Cupid didn’t just cause others to fall in love – he himself fell deeply in love.
As legend has it, Cupid fell in love with a mortal maiden named Psyche. Cupid married Psyche, but Venus, jealous of Psyche’s beauty, forbade her daughter-in-law to look at Cupid. Psyche, of course, couldn’t resist temptation and sneaked a peek at her handsome husband. As punishment, Venus demanded that she perform three hard tasks, the last of which caused Psyche’s death.
Cupid brought Psyche back to life and the gods, moved by their love, granted Pysche immortality. Cupid thus represents the heart and Psyche the (struggles of the) human soul.
Approximately 1 billion Valentine’s Day cards are sent each year. Half of those are sent through Care2 (OK, maybe not HALF… or even half of half… but we are growing fast!)
In order of popularity, Valentine’s Day cards are given to: teachers, children, mothers, wives, sweethearts, Koko the gorilla.
The expression “wearing your heart on your sleeve” comes from a Valentine’s Day party tradition. Young women would write their names on slips of paper to be drawn by young men. A man would then wear a woman’s name on his sleeve to claim her as his valentine.
Happy Valentine’s Day!
Granduca’s wonderful and international staff spent a few moments sharing how they celebrate the holidays and their special family traditions. We would love to hear how you celebrate the Holidays with your families. Please share in the comments box at the bottom of the page. Happy Holidays!
“Every day in December is so exciting. I wish it could be Dec. 1st through the 15th the entire month. Christmas Eve is my favorite time. It is so calm and peaceful. Everything is done, and if it is not done, it’s not going to be done. As a child my family would put up the handmade ceramic nativity early in December; each Christmas Eve after dinner and midnight mass we took turns placing the baby Jesus at the nativity. It is the simple things that matter most at the holidays; a cup of tea shared with a good friend remains a cherished memory.”
– Mary Grace Gray, General Manager
“After work is my children’s time and during most of the year its filled with football practice, swimming, etc. but through the holidays they decide how they want to spend this time together with me. It is our tradition to open a gift on Christmas Eve and cook soul food listening to my favorite childhood holiday songs. Christmas and Thanksgiving are my favorite times of the year as I think of my childhood growing up in Chicago.”
– Nakia Holmes, Executive Assistant
“My mom’s family is from Louisiana so we have Gumbo on Christmas Eve. I love all the lights and pretty stuff.”
–Heather Hickman, Sales Manager
“My kids are my world. My boys are 9 and 10 years old. They know I work long hours, but the most important thing for me is to give them a kiss when I come home. Love from my kids is the most important thing to me. We celebrate 2 Christmases with our Ethiopian holidays with dorowet. Dorowet is traditionally very spicy and perhaps the best known food from Ethiopia. It’s often referred to as the country’s national dish.”
– Fekade Wolde, Director of Food & Beverage
“Christmas Eve is my baby boy’s birthday so I cook chicken and Korean bbq for him. My baby boy is actually my dog Yanni, who is a Maltese.”
– Grace Kim, Human Resources Manager
“On Christmas Day we prepare lots of food. I learned from my Mom in China that from Christmas until New Year’s no one works, we just enjoy our time. We cook Peking duck, chicken, spring rolls – enough food for twenty people when there are only four of us. We also follow the Asian calendar.”
– Jeremie Heng, Maitre D’, Bar and Wine Manager
“I have two kids that are adopted from Russia. Christmas morning is extra special to watch them run down to see what Santa brought them.”
– Jane Whatley, Executive Assistant to Mr. Borlenghi
“I leave my Charlie Brown Christmas tree all year long. It’s Christmas all year at my house as the person who gave it to me is very special.”
– Ray Guyton, Director of Sales & Marketing
“A good feeling black and white movie. A roasted chicken with chestnuts, nice selection of cheese and wine of course…and end it all with a buche de Noel or “Christmas log”.
– Christine Bayol, Director of Operations
“My family is all back in Italy. I still decorate my house and go buy my Panettone and all the typical Italian Christmas desserts. My nativity set is important to me. As a child our nativity set was huge. We would build mountains out of cardboard and use fresh moss. On Christmas Day we would put the baby Jesus in its place. Then after Christmas we would start to move the three kings closer to the nativity every day.”
–Renato de Pirro, Executive Chef