Mother’s Day is a holiday honoring motherhood that is observed in different forms throughout the world. In the United States, Mother’s Day 2021 will occur on Sunday, May 9. 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 traditionally involves presenting moms with flowers, cards and other gifts.
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.
American author and poet Julia Ward Howe, who wrote “The Battle Hymn of the Republic,”became the editor of Woman’s Journal, a widely-read suffragist magazine, in 1872. During that time, she wrote an “Appeal to womanhood throughout the world,” which would become known as the Mother’s Day Proclamation. The document asked women to fight for world peace following both the Civil War and the Franco-Prussian War. Howe then launched a failed attempted to start a “Mother’s Day” celebration on June 2. Two decades later Howe suggested a Mother’s Day celebration every July 4. This also failed to take hold, but set the stage for a future attempt.
Anna Jarvis successfully initiated Mother’s Day after her mother, Ann Reeves Jarvis, died in 1905. Jarvis noted that Mother’s Day should contain a “singular possessive,” (hence the apostrophe) so each family might honor its own mother — as opposed to all mothers. Jarvis, who neither married nor had children, organized the first official Mother’s Day celebration in May 1908. A Philadelphia department store owner named John Wanamaker lent his financial support to the cause. That same month thousands of people attended a Mother’s Day event at one of Wanamaker’s stores.
Jarvis soon lobbied to make Mother’s Day a national holiday — urging prominent Americans to join the effort. By 1912 many states, towns, and churches had adopted Mother’s Day as an annual event. Jarvis also started the Mother’s Day International Association. President Wilson would soon establish the second Sunday in May as Mother’s Day in 1914. Hallmark began selling Mother’s Day cards in the early 1920s.
Jarvis’ love affair with the holiday she worked so hard to start did not last, and she eventually grew to resent its commercial appeal. As florists and greeting card companies began to cash in, she soured on the idea of a national day — urging people to stop buying flowers, cards and candies. Jarvis spent most of her personal wealth hiring attorneys to file lawsuits against groups using the term “Mother’s Day.” She even tried to persuade the federal government to remove it from the calendar.
TRADITIONS OF THE DAY
The undying love and selfless sacrifices of mothers are returned with some royal treatment of them on Mother’s Day. It’s the day to pamper the queen of the household herself! Think gifts, breakfast in bed, hand-drawn cards with stickers on them, a shopping spree or spa day, the works!
Most common traditions of the day include the kids and dad taking over the house chores and cooking for the day, spending extra time with mom, and buying mom traditional gifts like flowers, jewelry, or an item that she has had her eyes on for a while. There are great sales and discounts across several stores and restaurants, as well as special deals only for mothers. Movies and episodes related to mothers or Mother’s Day are aired all day long, and talk shows and segments featuring celebrity mothers. Speaking of celebrities, mothers are the stars of the day, so their photos are all over social media.
MOTHER'S DAY FAQS
- June 21, 2020
- June 20, 2021
- Scalp massager
- Hair towel
- Tea infuser
- Essential oils
- Thoughtful mug
- Water bottle
MOTHER'S DAY ACTIVITIES
Ever notice how your mom always says she doesn’t want expensive presents? Believe her. She just wants to spend some time with you (yes, it’s a cliché, but that doesn’t make it any less true). So, take a hike or plan a picnic. Help her in the garden or hit the town. Even if it’s no more creative than a big bowl of popcorn and a “GOT” marathon, Mom will enjoy the QT more than any tangible present.
Find an amazing restaurant and treat Mom to a mimosa or three. Planning on taking her out later? The sky’s the limit for lunch and dinner options. Plan ahead. Make a reservation. Remember, you’re an adult now.
Listening is an act of love. So, with that in mind, take a break from talking about your own problems and listen to her talk about her life, her dreams, or her favorite memories. If you have siblings, get the family together and tell stories!