Anna M. Jarvis is the founder of Mother’s Day, who successfully campaigned to have the first official Mother’s Day celebration held. It was a tribute to her mother Julia Ward Howe who conceived the Mother’s Day Proclamation back in 1870. It is a tradition that is observed on different days in different countries in a number of different ways.
“Since the day I was born I have loved you so much…” were the opening words I penned on a handmade Mother’s Day card back in the 3rd grade. Those were the only words I remember as our teacher was a merciless editor and I think those were the only original words I was allowed to keep in the final version that was sent home to my Mother.
I am sure Mom still has the card tucked away somewhere, along with the gold-painted broach made from an eyeglass lens that accompanied the card. Memories of Mother’s Day stay with us, as children and then as we grow up to become mothers of our own.
Mother’s Day Traditions
While you are enjoying tea or time together you can ponder the history and traditions of Mother’s Day.
The celebration of motherhood can be traced back to the Egyptians, but we will fast forward to more current history. There is an excellent website on the history of Mother’s Day for the Jeopardy fans in the crowd. Plus you can shop for a bit of land in Scotland at the same time!
In North America Mother’s Day is celebrated on the second Sunday in May. Currently, there are close to 70 countries that officially celebrate Mother’s Day, but at different times of the year and in different ways.
Some countries, like France in 1918 with influence from American troops, simply imported the US secular traditions. Others, including countries whose tradition stems from the English Mothering Day, maintain traditions quite different from those of the United States. Still, others have ignored or abandoned the more religious and commercial notions of Mother’s Day, choosing instead to focus on women’s issues and women’s rights by celebrating International Women’s Day.
For some countries, there is religious significance to the day.
- United Kingdom: Mothering Day falls on the fourth Sunday of Lent. Its origins in early Christianity to honour the Mother Church where Christians were baptized.
- Ethiopia: the holiday is tied to seasons and agriculture, and in Yugoslavia it leads up to Christmas, commemorating the Motherhood of Christ.
The Mother of Mother’s Day in North America
Mother’s Day is a tribute to commercialism which its founder fought bitterly against. Anna M. Jarvis successfully campaigned to have the first official Mother’s Day celebration held, a tribute to her mother Julia Ward Howe who conceived the Mother’s Day Proclamation back in 1870.
There’s a reason ‘mother’ is singular: Jarvis was very intentional about the name of her holiday. It’s Mother’s Day — as in one mom. The way Jarvis put it, Mother’s Day is a day to honour “the best mother who ever lived, yours.”
When the Americans get a good idea in their heads they run with it, and while Anna dedicated her life to making Mother’s Day an official holiday (Woodrow Wilson declared it in 1914), she spent as much effort to stop the exploitation of the Mother’s Day, particularly by the flower industry who continue to profit. The end of Anna’s story is that she died in 1948, blind, poor and childless. Ironically, The Florist’s Exchange anonymously paid for her final care.
Mother’s Day Afternoon Tea
My favourite tradition for special days with Mom or my girlfriends is Afternoon Tea. It is really easy to do.
Afternoon tea is simply a pot of tea and
- scones – my easy recipe
- tiny sandwiches – easy to make your own
- bite-sized desserts – buy from a bakery
From cream tea to a full afternoon tea menu, check out my Guide to Afternoon Tea for plenty of ideas. You can always pack up a box and drop it off on her doorstep.
If Afternoon Tea is not Mom’s thing, I have a number of “Mother’s Day” dish ideas you can make.
Downton Books for Mom
You still have time to order books for mom. You can check out the books on the right and other great books below.