The first time that Mother’s Day was officially celebrated was on May 10, 1908 at St. Andrew’s Methodist Church in Grafton, West Virgina, USA. The originator who established it was Anna Jarvis who had admired the work of her own mother and, after her death wanted to make a special tribute to her. During the service she distributed 500 carnations to women in the church as this had been the favourite flower of her mother.
In 1912 Anna trademarked the phrases “Second Sunday in May” “Mother’s Day”. That year she also created the Mother’s Day International Association.
President Woodrow Wilson put a little different twist on this. He issued a proclamation in 1914 declaring the first national Mother's Day in honour of those mothers who sons had died in war. The proclamation encouraged American citizen to show the flag to them as a sign of respect.
Over the years there have been many traditions associated with Mother’s Day. Churchgoing, giving cards and gifts, sharing a family meal and spending time with mothers have been popular choices
It didn’t take long until commercialism entered the scene. Hallmark began creating Mother’s Day cards and florists promoted the idea of wearing carnations to honour mothers and mother-figures. A tradition arose where women whose mother was alive would wear a pink carnation. If the mother had died a white carnation was worn.
Anna became very upset about the commercialism. She thought that those who purchased a card were being just too lazy to write a letter. In 1948 she was arrested in for disturbing the peace because she was protesting what she termed abuse of the celebration. All of her inheritance and the rest of her life were spent fighting the commercialization. In fact, she stated that she wished she had never started Mother’s Day because it had become so out of control.
Eating out in restaurants occurs more often in the United States on Mother’s Day than on any other day of the year. Jewelry, especially customized rings, are popular gifts given to mothers. According to Wikipedia, Americans spend $2.6 billion on flowers, $1.53 billion on pampering gifts such as spa treatments and $68 million on greeting cards just for that one day!
Over the years I have treasured so many gifts from my children but none so much as popsicle sticks glued together and given with a big smile or finger paintings that need to be explained. Now that they are all adults, I always look forward to phone calls, hugs and I never seem to get enough of the words “I love you” and “Thanks”.
Creating a celebration to honour a woman who you care about and respect doesn’t have to be an elaborate project. Even a small handful of dandelions or a thoughtfully drawn picture can warm the heart of someone who is pleased to know she is important to you. It’s all about the honouring that counts.
Happy Mother’s Day, everyone!