Pura Botanica Blog

History of Mother’s Day

ann-reeves-jarvis-program-cover-wvrhcWe all take time on the second Sunday in May every year to honor the special mothers in our lives, but have you ever wondered when this tradition began? 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.

Mother’s Day traditionally involves presenting mothers with flowers, cards and other gifts. 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. The clearest modern precedent, for Mother’s Day is the early Christian, European festival known as “Mothering Sunday.” Once a major tradition, 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. Do you feel like you are ready for your next game of Trivia yet?

Modern American Mother’s Day dates back to the 19th century. In the years before the Civil War (1861-65), Ann Reeves Jarvis helped start “Mothers’ Day Work Clubs” to teach local women how to properly care for their children. In 1868 Jarvis organized “Mothers’ Friendship Day,” at which, mothers gathered with former Union and Confederate soldiers to promote reconciliation. What an amazing woman!

Another precursor to Mother’s Day came from the abolitionist Julia Ward Howe. In 1870 Howe wrote the “Mother’s Day Proclamation,” A call to action that asked mothers to unite in promoting world peace. Maybe we should give this try.

Did you know more phone calls are made on Mother’s Day than any other day of the year? These holiday chats with Mom often cause phone traffic to spike by as much as 37 percent, even though we know all our readers call their Mothers every day anyway.