Mother’s Day Word Origins

The second Sunday in May is set aside in the United States to celebrate mothers. There is also a Mother's Day celebration in the United Kingdom, Denmark, Finland, Italy, Turkey, Australia, Mexico, Canada, China, Japan, and Belgium. England's "Mothering Sunday," similar to Mother's Day, is also called Mid-Lent Sunday and it is observed on the fourth Sunday in Lent, though it has largely been replaced by Mother's Day on the second Sunday in May. Anna Jarvis, born in Grafton, West Virginia in 1864, started the movement to have a Mother's Day. She wrote letters to politicians, newspaper editors, and church leaders and organized a committee called Mother's Day International Association to promote the new holiday. She wanted Mother's Day to be close to Memorial Day so people would recognize mothers for the sacrifices they made for their families in the same way that servicepeople had for their country. The first official Mother's Day observance was in May 1907. President Woodrow Wilson gave the day national recognition in 1914. Jarvis spent the last years of her life trying to abolish the holiday she had brought into being, because she protested its commercialization.

Mother is one of the surviving words from Anglo-Saxon (starting as modor), which are among the most fundamental words in English. Mother has many cognates in other languages, including Old High German muoter, Dutch moeder, Old Norse mothir, Latin mater, Greek meter, and Sanskrit mat. These words share an Indo-European root. Mother is one of the Anglo-Saxon nouns that has an Anglo-Saxon adjective as well as a Latinate adjective — motherly and maternal — and motherly also came from Old English (modorlic). Mom, a shortened form of momma, was recorded in 1894; momma was first used in 1884. Both are chiefly North American uses. Mamma and mama, created by children reduplicating an instinctive sound, are much earlier terms � showing up in the 1500s. In between came mommy (also North American in usage) in 1848, which was a variant of mammy (also 1500s).

The carnation is the floral symbol of Mother's Day and the holiday is associated with the colors red and white. Some people wear white carnations on this day to honor mothers who have died and red or pink for those who are living. The "founder" of Mother's Day, Anna Jarvis, urged people to wear carnations because carnations had been her own Mother's favorite flower. Carnation is the general name for the cultivated variety of the clove-pink. It is likely that the word derived from coronation, as the flower's dented leaves somewhat resemble a crown.

The word family first referred to the servants of a household and then to both the servants and the descendants of a common ancestor. It comes from Latin familia, "household; household servants," which came from another Latin term famulus, "servant." It was not until 1667 that the term was used specifically for the group of persons consisting of parents and their children.

The history of greeting cards goes back hundreds of years. Early greeting cards were hand-delivered and handmade. Their popularity forced the introduction of the first postage stamp in 1840. The oldest known greeting card in existence is one for Valentine's Day, made in the 1400s and now displayed in the British Museum. The most popular card-sending holidays in order are Christmas, Valentine's Day, Mother's Day, Easter, and Father's Day. Together, the Greeting Card Associations says these five card-sending holidays account for 96 percent of individual seasonal card sales.

To nurture means "to feed or nourish a child" and also "to raise and support to maturity." The verb was formed after the noun, which came into English via Anglo-Norman and Old French. As a noun, nurture first referred (c 1330) to a person's training or breeding. The word can be traced back to Latin nutritus, meaning "to nourish."

Daughter is a very old English word, first recorded c. 1000 as dohtor. It descends from Old English and is related to words in many other Indo-European languages, such as Greek thugater. The modern spelling daughter was first used in a 16th century Bible and was popularized by Shakespeare. The word son is quite a bit older, found in Beowulf in 645. It also descends from Old English and is related to words in many other Indo-European languages, such as Greek huios. In 2000, it was estimated that the ratio of the sexes was thus: from birth to under 15 years old there are 1.05 males per 1 female, from 15-64 years of age there are 1.02 males per 1 female, and 65 years and over 0.78 males to 1 female, with the total population being 1.01 males per 1 female.







Copyright © 2014 Dictionary.com, LLC. All rights reserved.
About PRIVACY POLICY Terms Careers Advertise with Us Contact Us Our Blog Suggest a Word Help