TR Robertson — Mother’s Day will soon be celebrated in the United States, this year on Sunday, May 8th. Mother’s Day is traditionally a celebration honoring mothers, motherhood, and the influence of mothers in our society. Over 50 countries in the world celebrate Mother’s Day. Historically, the celebration of mother’s dates back thousands of years. There was an ancient Greek cult honoring Cybele – the mother of the gods and a nature goddess; the Roman festival of Hilaria – honoring the mother goddess of merriment; the Christian Laetare Sunday (4th Sunday in season of Lent) connected to the Mother Church.
But if we are looking at the specific day we celebrate in the states honoring mothers, we must go to 1907 when Anna Reeves Jarvis held a memorial for her mother, Ann Reeves Jarvis, at St. Andrews Methodist Church in Grafton, West Virginia. She had started campaigning for a Mother’s Day celebration in 1905, the year her mother died. Ann Reeves Jarvis, along with Julia Ward Howe, had made an appeal in 1870 for womanhood to unite for peace after the devastation of the Civil War. Julia Ward Howe wrote the lyrics to “The Battle Hymn of the Republic”. Ann Reeves Jarvis had created a Mother’s Day Work Club to address public health issues related to women. Anna wanted to honor her mother and all mothers with the creation of a National Holiday. Her efforts did have success as by 1911, all the U.S. states observed the proposed holiday as a local holiday. In 1914, President Woodrow Wilson signed a proclamation designating Mother’s Day as a National Holiday to honor all mother’s and picked the 2nd Sunday in May as the day for the United States to honor mothers. Since 1962, the International Mother’s Day Shrine was created and built in Grafton, West Virginia.
One side effect of the National Holiday came from Anna Reeves Jarvis as she resented the commercialization of the day, feeling it should be a personal family celebration to honor mothers. By the 1920’s, Hallmark began selling Mother’s Day Cards. Anna felt it should be more personalized with people writing personal letters to their mother’s. In 1912 she created the Mother’s Day International Association to promote programs like writing letters. Anna did fall into a bit of trouble as she led a protest in Washington, D.C. and was arrested for disturbing the peace. As far as the commercialization, she was not too far off in her thinking as in case you have not noticed, prior to COVID, Mother’s Day brunches, a popular way to celebrate with mom offered at many restaurants, had become one of the most expensive meals offered by the restaurants. COVID has brought many changes so it will be interesting to see what this Mother’s Day offers.
Other countries celebrate mothers on a variety of days other than in May. Constance Adelaide Smith, in the 1910’s thru 1920’s, advocated for Mothering Sunday in Great Britain. She said the celebration should deal with concerns on the biological definition of motherhood. Her campaign was successful in the British Isles. Norway celebrates mothers in February, Argentina celebrates in October. Bolivia celebrates Mother’s Day on May 27th, the day honoring a battle where women defended their children. Russia celebrates the International Woman’s Day on March 8th as their tribute to mothers. Some countries associate honoring mothers with a variety of religions prominent in their country – such as, the Roman Catholic Church, Eastern Orthodox Church, Hindu and Buddhist religions.
Some of the trivia that has arisen in the U.S. from Mother’s Day include:
- There are more phone calls on Mother’s Day than on any other day
- 36% of Americans purchase jewelry as gifts for their mothers.
- Beauty salons and spas see a spike from Mother’s Day
- Traditionally Mother’s Day is the busiest day of the year for restaurants
- Mother’s Day is the #1 day for flowers sales (beating out Valentine’s Day)
- The U.S. spends, on the average, approximately $14 billion on Mother’s Day
- Carnations are the traditional flower for Mother’s Day – Red carnations if your mother is still living, White if you mother has passed.
However you chose to celebrate, have a great time if you mother is still alive, honor her in a way you feel is appropriate. If you mother has passed, spend some time thinking about what she meant to your life. Whatever you do, be safe, have fun and make sure you tell your mother how much she means to you.
Happy Mother’s Day