Mother’s Day is a holiday honoring motherhood that is observed in different forms throughout the world. The American incarnation of Mother’s Day was created by Anna Jarvis in 1908 and became an official U.S. holiday in 1914. Jarvis would later denounce the holiday’s commercialization and spent the latter part of her life trying to remove it from the calendar. While dates and celebrations vary, Mother’s Day most commonly falls on the second Sunday in May and traditionally involves presenting mothers with flowers, cards and other gifts.
“I love Mother’s Day. It is one of my favorite “fun” holidays. I love that there really is no pressure when it comes to this holiday. To me it is not about buying gifts or stressing about making a giant feast or worrying about who you might irritate if you can not show up. It is just purely about celebrating the fact that you are a mom (or have a momma), which truly is one of the greatest gifts in the world. Ever since I have become a Mom myself it is a holiday that I get excited about and always look forward to. I love waking up to homemade scribbled on cards, macaroni necklaces, and a messy egg breakfast (with a few eggshells because of the tiny kitchen helpers). And lets be real a day where foot massages are given out freely and not having to cook one meal or clean up a single dish is my kinda day. Every year we usually wake up early, have our eggshell egg omelet, and head down to the beach for the morning, doing whatever it is we decide to do. So simple and I love it. I will also be seeing my Mom later that day for an afternoon of pedicures and girly drinks. I can’t wait.” – Lindsay from Delighted Momma
As a mother of three, I feel honored to share this special day with so many women and the mothers who came before us. It is a passage to become and be a mother, and means so many things. With Mother’s Day arrival, many traditions can start for the day with some ideas being prepared by dad and the kids at home or going out:
- A Mother’s Day Brunch
- Breakfast in Bed with a menu choice of activities/chores for the day.
- A Spa Morning/Afternoon
- Booked Pedicures/Manicures
- Sleeping in with time of uninterrupted reading, have a relaxing bath, watching a TV series or a movie.
- Going to a garden center and planting flowers for the afternoon.
- A BBQ lunch/dinner indoors or outdoors.
- A picnic at a park.
- Going into nature for a hike or bike ride.
- Mother’s Day marathon’s (walks for causes)
- Playing a round of golf, doing a yoga class or another sport.
- Having High Tea with a group of ladies.
- Visiting your mom or grandmother.
- Going to her favorite local bakery and/or coffee shop for goods in morning.
History of Mother’s Day
Celebrations of mothers and motherhood can be traced back to the ancient Greeks and Romans, who held festivals in honor of the mother goddesses Rhea and Cybele, but the clearest modern precedent for Mother’s Day is the early Christian festival known as “Mothering Sunday.” Once a major tradition in the United Kingdom and parts of Europe, this celebration fell on the fourth Sunday in Lent and was originally seen as a time when the faithful would return to their “mother church”—the main church in the vicinity of their home—for a special service. Over time the Mothering Sunday tradition shifted into a more secular holiday, and children would present their mothers with flowers and other tokens of appreciation. This custom eventually faded in popularity before merging with the American Mother’s Day in the 1930s and 1940s.
The roots of the modern American Mother’s Day date back to the 19th century. In the years before the Civil War (1861-65), Ann Reeves Jarvis of West Virginia helped start “Mothers’ Day Work Clubs” to teach local women how to properly care for their children. These clubs later became a unifying force in a region of the country still divided over the Civil War. In 1868 Jarvis organized “Mothers’ Friendship Day,” at which mothers gathered with former Union and Confederate soldiers to promote reconciliation.
The official Mother’s Day holiday arose in the 1900s as a result of the efforts of Anna Jarvis, daughter of Ann Reeves Jarvis. Following her mother’s 1905 death, Anna Jarvis conceived of Mother’s Day as a way of honoring the sacrifices mothers made for their children.
Following the success of her first Mother’s Day, Jarvis—who remained unmarried and childless her whole life—resolved to see her holiday added to the national calendar. Arguing that American holidays were biased toward male achievements, she started a massive letter writing campaign to newspapers and prominent politicians urging the adoption of a special day honoring motherhood. By 1912 many states, towns and churches had adopted Mother’s Day as an annual holiday, and Jarvis had established the Mother’s Day International Association to help promote her cause. Her persistence paid off in 1914 when President Woodrow Wilson signed a measure officially establishing the second Sunday in May as Mother’s Day.
Anna Jarvis had originally conceived of Mother’s Day as a day of personal celebration between mothers and families. Her version of the day involved wearing a white carnation as a badge and visiting one’s mother or attending church services. But once Mother’s Day became a national holiday, it was not long before florists, card companies and other merchants capitalized on its popularity.
While Jarvis had initially worked with the floral industry to help raise Mother’s Day’s profile, by 1920 she had become disgusted with how the holiday had been commercialized. She outwardly denounced the transformation and urged people to stop buying Mother’s Day flowers, cards and candies. Jarvis eventually resorted to an open campaign against Mother’s Day profiteers, speaking out against confectioners, florists and even charities. She also launched countless lawsuits against groups that had used the name “Mother’s Day,” eventually spending most of her personal wealth in legal fees. By the time of her death in 1948 Jarvis had disowned the holiday altogether, and even actively lobbied the government to see it removed from the American calendar.
Photography: Jordan from Oh Happy Day