The History of Mother’s Day
Mother’s Day, as celebrated in the U.S., is a relatively young holiday. Yet few of us can imagine life without taking a Sunday in May to pamper the moms in our lives, whether it is with a homemade breakfast in bed or brunch out, cards and gifts, and flowers. The enduring popularity of this holiday speaks to the bond most of us feel with our own mothers, and the urge to express gratitude for everything that mothers do for their children.
Honoring mothers and motherhood is not a new concept, as many cultures have done so throughout the ages. However, our modern holiday was the inspiration of Anna Jarvis, daughter of Ann Marie Reeves Jarvis. Mrs. Reeves Jarvis was a social activist in the late 1800s, working to improve public health and to keep her West Virginia community together both during and after the Civil War. Anna Jarvis cared for her mother after the death of her father in 1902. After her mother passed away in 1905, Anna wanted to honor her mother and all mothers who sacrificed for their children, and thus the idea of Mother’s Day was born.
With the support of her friends, Anna Jarvis started a letter-writing campaign to urge business leaders and public figures to declare a national Mother’s Day holiday. In 1908, the first public Mother’s Day observance was held in Grafton, West Virginia, in the form of a memorial service for Ann Reeves Jarvis. By 1911, efforts to popularize the holiday had been so effective that it was celebrated in all fifty states, and some states even officially recognized it as a local holiday. Finally, in 1914, Woodrow Wilson signed a proclamation making Mother’s Day an official national holiday, to be observed on the second Sunday in May each year.
While some traditions, such as giving cards, have been adopted in the years since the holiday was first celebrated, the giving of flowers dates back to the very first Mother’s Day observance. White carnations were distributed at the 1908 service honoring Ann Reeves Jarvis, because they were her favorite flower. From this beginning, carnations came be closely associated with the holiday and became a traditional gift given to mothers on that day. Nowadays, Mother’s Day gifts of flowers are likely to be made up of mom’s favorites, or of any of the multitude of flowers in season in the spring, but flowers remain a popular way to thank mothers for their love and care.
Jarvis envisioned Mother’s Day as a personal celebration between mothers and their families. It is a testament to the power of her idea that the holiday endures and has spread to dozens of countries around the world. At Rachel Cho Floral Design, we delight in helping our clients select the perfect blooms to express their feelings for the special women they want to honor on Mother’s Day. With inspired design and top-quality flowers, our arrangements will let her know exactly how much she means to you. Contact us today for help with all your floral needs.