Celebrations of mothers and motherhood occur throughout the world; many of these have histories can be traced back to ancient festivals, like the Greek cult to Cybele or the Roman festival of Hilaria. The modern US-celebration of Mother’s Day is not directly related to these.
One of the early calls to celebrate a Mother’s Day in the United States was the “Mother’s Day Proclamation” by Julia Ward Howe. Written in 1870, it was a pacifist reaction to the carnage of the American Civil War and the Franco-Prussian War. The Proclamation was tied to Howe’s feminist belief that women had a responsibility to shape their societies at the political level.
In 1912, Anna Jarvis trademarked the phrases “second Sunday in May” and “Mother’s Day”, and created the Mother’s Day International Association. “She was specific about the location of the apostrophe; it was to be a singular possessive, for each family to honour their mother, not a plural possessive commemorating all mothers in the world.”