A Brief Look into the History of Mother’s Day

history of mother’s day

A Brief Look into the History of Mother’s Day

As much as I appreciate how convenient it is to run to Hallmark and pick out a greeting card for holiday’s like Mother’s Day, I often feel like it’s a little non-personal. Granted, there’s nothing wrong with sending a store bought card. But I like to think that I can express my feelings and gratitude for my mom just fine in my own words. I’m always a little disappointed as I flip through card after beautiful card. They are all written by someone else. How can they possibly understand the way I felt about MY mom?

My underwhelming card buying experience got me thinking about what exactly Mother’s Day means. I questioned what it meant to me as a daughter, but also as a mother myself. Did I want flowers? A spa gift card? A day off from diapers? Or, did I want something else entirely? What would it mean if I spent the day away from the ball of fire that made me a mother. Does that make me a “bad” mom? As I’m rapid-fire questioning my very role, I also began wondering how Mother’s Day began in the first place. Surely, the founders of this holiday didn’t intend for it to become a commercialization of motherhood.  Right?

Well, yes and no.

Ancient Origins

Turns out, the ancient Greeks were pretty into moms. Well, one mom. THE mom. Rhea, mother of gods (like Zeus, Demeter, Poseidon, among other bad-asses of Greek mythology.) She was celebrated prominently with a yearly festival revolving around fertility. So, while the actual celebration of a human mother may not have existed, it did create a foundation for a later recognition of mothers and motherhood.

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Later, as Christianity spread through Europe and the UK, a special Sunday service was offered. Parishioners were encouraged to return to their “mother church” for that day. Eventually, that Sunday celebration included a more secular element where children presented their own mothers with small tokens of appreciation.

The American celebration of motherhood didn’t start until the years prior to the civil war and not in the way that one might expect. Ann Jarvis, of West Virginia, founded “Mother’s Day Work Clubs.” These organizations were tasked with educating local women on how to properly care for their children. Later, these same clubs, which had spread throughout the East coast, were unifying agents for Confederate and Union soldiers promoting friendship amongst veterans. This became known as “Mother’s Friendship Day.”

Later still, a “Mother’s Day Proclamation” was issued that called women to unite and promote world peace during the rising Feminist movement. Instead of celebrating one’s own mother, this early incarnation of the day recognized the fundamental role, and perhaps job, of mothers everywhere. To lead, educate, encourage, support, and to love. That is an idea I can definitely get behind.

Noordam-delegates-1915

Photo credit: www.2bsisters.com

Modern Manifestation

In the ultimate show of gratitude, the daughter of Ann Jarvis, Anna Jarvis, set out in the early 1900’s to honor her mother’s work. She established a day that revolved around mommas and the sacrifices they make for their children every day.

anna-jarvis_

Photo credit: www.dispatch.com

This is where the modern Mother’s Day was born. Coupling with Anna, John Wanamaker, of Wanamaker’s department store in Philadelphia, staged an event at his store on the same day Anna hosted an event at her Methodist church in West Virginia. While I’m sure Mr. Wanamaker loved his mother dearly, I also believe that he saw the retail value in this holiday. Though, perhaps without the huge success of his event, Anna Jarvis wouldn’t have sought to add Mother’s Day to the official national calendar, which was eventually added in 1914 by President Woodrow Wilson.

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Photo credit: www.philapark.com

The sad ending to this story is that Anna Jarvis eventually saw how commercialized the holiday had become, which was a far cry from what she believed the purpose of the day was. While she supported the purchase of a white carnation to wear in respect of the day, she never intended for floral companies to take it so far. She spent the rest of her days trying to reform the holiday and even get it removed from the calendar. 

26th March 1960: Children looking at the display for 'Mother's Day' in a flower shop in Highgate, London. (Photo by Keystone/Getty Images)

26th March 1960: Children looking at the display for ‘Mother’s Day’ in a flower shop in Highgate, London. (Photo by Getty Images)

So How Will I Celebrate Mother’s Day?

I have to confess, after researching about the holiday I was feeling pretty guilty about sending my husband a list of things I “needed” for Mother’s Day. But then I reconsidered. There isn’t any reason why I can’t celebrate motherhood in multiple ways. I know my husband wants to celebrate me and the job I do in helping raise our child (among other things). That’s okay because I appreciate the heck out of his gratitude. I, on the other hand, can celebrate in my own way.

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Seeing as how Ann Jarvis meant to create a day of action that showcased the important characteristics of motherhood, I plan to seek out ways in which I can do the same. I have some ideas on how to do this and am looking forward to gathering with some mommy-friends and intentionally celebrating motherhood through service.

I hope you’ve enjoyed learning a bit about the history of Mother’s Day and that you are completely showered with love on Sunday! Let me know how you like to celebrate in the comments below!

About the Author /

Lanie is a wife, mother to her two boys, and has a huge passion for maternal health, nutrition, and fitness.

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(quote by @debiandbebi)⁠
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Instagram post 17863413055589017 When they wake up in the morning and give you that big grin . . . 😍 There is nothing sweeter.⁠
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Instagram post 17862171103601373 All of these things make me happy. What would you add to your self care toolbox?⁠
I'm seriously needing some of these things tonight to start a new week. Hoping you mamas get some self care time too! 💕⁠
📷: @hallmark⁠
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#motherhoodthroughinstagram #momlife #motherhood #selfcare #selfcaretoolbox #mumlife #mommylife #metime #motherhoodunplugged #realmoms #momstatus #thatmomlife #realmomlife #momsofinstagram #momhumor #motherhoodrising #ig_motherhood #uniteinmotherhood⁣ #babychick⁣
Instagram post 17974795027288980 Was he dreaming he was riding a bike last night escaping from wild animals?! OUCH! 🤕🚲⁠
📷: @themommyconfessions⁠
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Instagram post 18081610903134401 Praying that your toddler let's you get to sleep this weekend. 🙏💤⁠
📷: unknown⁠
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Instagram post 17866776847554303 Above all else, let us teach them to be kind. 💗⁠
(quote: @mommywinetime)⁠
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Instagram post 17853200368708392 SURPRISE! A little shocked, a little tired, and a LOT BLESSED. Congrats, @sarah_lit! ❤️⁠
📷: @sarah_lit⁠
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Instagram post 17864808397574241 Pregnant and hungry all the time? Here are some great ideas to keep in the fridge when the hunger pains kick in! 🤰👍⁠
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Instagram post 18073051357163780 When it comes to clamping the cord, our mottos is "what's the rush?" The blood volume in the placenta and cord at the time of birth is BABY'S blood. It's simply mid-circulation in the placenta at the time of birth. It just makes sense to leave it be and let it finish its job.⁠
No, the blood won't drain out of baby and go backwards into the placenta.⁠
No, your baby is not more likely to get sick from jaundice.⁠
Yes, your baby will still be getting oxygen while they figure out breathing, especially important if they need resuscitation.⁠
Yes, your baby will have better iron levels for the first year of their life.⁠
Look at how thick and engorged this cord still is at 4 and 18 minutes after baby was born. Just imagine how much blood baby would have lost if the cord had been clamped immediately, or at 60 seconds, 90 seconds, or 3 minutes! The placenta was expelled immediately before the 18 minute photo was taken. The pulse in the cord could still be felt even AFTER THE PLACENTA HAD BEEN DELIVERED! The cord was finally clamped and cut more than an hour after birth at 73 minutes. ❤️⁠
📷: @lawrenrosephotography⁠
Informative post and words by @bundleborn⁠
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#placenta #lotusbirth #homebirth #midwife #midwifery #phsiologicThirdStage #delayedcordclamping #optimalcordclamping #waitforwhite #whatstherush #postpartum #birth #laboranddelivery #babychick #mommychick
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Instagram post 17852665306696124 With the holiday season upon us and moms trying to make everything magical for their families, remember to stop and take a moment to take care of you. ❤️ Have a hot cup of coffee, a long warm shower and some alone time. Communicate this with your partner not as a wish but as a necessity. We must take the time to take care of ourselves to better take care of them. 💕⁠
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Instagram post 18095239591099259 After holiday feasting . . . this baby gets me.⁠ 🤣
📷: unknown (DM for credit)
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Instagram post 17844162355818683 I think I had a little too much turkey . . . and pie. 😬🍗🥧 #leggingsforlife⁠
📷: @hallmarkbaby⁠
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Instagram post 17990835490280335 I totally felt this way when I was pregnant. And kinda feel this way after all that turkey. 🤣🦃 Happy turkey day to all you expecting mamas!!⁠
📷: @madiford2 via Twitter⁠
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Instagram post 18094211479105476 I spy with my little eye the cutest turkey ever. 😍 Happy Thanksgiving, everybody! Hope it's filled with love, laughter, and cuteness like this. ❤️⁠
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Instagram post 17852562805720320 Loneliness is a real thing in new motherhood and I want to be sure we talk about this. It's okay to say, "I feel lonely." We normalize one another's experiences when we share the reality of our journey. It can be so isolating when we bring our small human home and our lives revolve around his/her care. We feel detached from the outside world. The monotony of new motherhood can be heavy.⁠
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Here are some tips to combat isolation:⁠
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1️⃣ Get outside when possible.⁠
2️⃣ Video chat with friends/family.⁠
3️⃣ Join a virtual group.⁠
4️⃣ Invite someone to come over.⁠
5️⃣ Find a local mom's group.⁠
6️⃣ Listen to the radio or a podcast (it's interesting how this can make us feel connected with others)⁠
7️⃣ Run an errand--even grabbing a coffee via drive-thru can feel good.⁠
8️⃣ Get to know your neighbors.⁠
What would you add to the list?⁠
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Repost: words and 📷 by @psychedmommy⁠
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Instagram post 17867282176536875 ⁠For the week of Thanksgiving (and longer if you can!) let's focus on what we DO have instead of what we lack. The more we express gratitude and appreciate our blessings the more we recognize all of our blessings and everything we should be thankful for. 💕⁠
📷: @hallmark⁠
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Instagram post 17855722339639264 ✈️ Tips to Survive a Plane Ride with Kids ✈️⁠
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Flying on a plane with your little one for the first time can be terrifying. Are they going to cry the whole time? How will they handle the airport, the turbulence and the landing? Well we have some tips that will help prepare you for your flight with your kids. Here's what to do to have a more enjoyable experience 😊 {Link in bio!}⁠
📷: unknown⁠
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📷: Martiza Elizabeth on FB
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