Wednesday Feature: Happy Mother’s Day

This upcoming Sunday is Mother’s Day. Despite its commerciality, it does have a history dating back to the early 1900s. In 1908, Anna Jarvis in honor of her deceased mother, Ann Reeves Jarvis created the first U.S. version of Mother’s Day. Ann Reeves Jarvis was an activist who founded Mother’s Day Work Clubs. A staunch Episcopal Methodist woman, she taught Sunday school. It was during a Sunday school class that her daughter supposedly, came up with the inspiration for Mother’s Day via a prayer. Notably, as the holiday took on a greater focus toward gifts and cards for moms, Jarvis became unfavorable to the day as now commemorated. The actual holiday as we know it became nationalized in 1914.

Celebrations related to “mothers” date back to ancient Greek and Roman times. Festivals were held in honor of the mother goddesses of Cybele and Rhea. Mothering Sunday is a Christian festival that started in the United Kingdom and Europe. It occurred on the 4th Sunday of Lent, Laetare Sunday, where Christians returned to their mother church – the main church in their locale for a special worship service. This tradition ultimately became more secular, focused on gifts to mom and then more or less, merged with the American tradition in the 1930s and 1940s.

Below are some fun Mother’s Day facts that most people probably don’t know.

  • Mother’s Day is typically the busiest day of the year for restaurants.
  • More calls are made on Mother’s Day than any other day of the year.
  • Mother’s Day is the third highest sales day of the year for plants and flowers.
  • President Woodrow Wilson signed Mother’s Day into law in 1914.
  • Last year (2022), $31 billion was spent on Mother’s Day with the average gift amount of $245.
  • The most popular gift on Mother’s Day is a card and 41% of folk buy jewelry for mom.
  • Mother’s Day is a worldwide holiday.

As we approach this weekend and our honor and celebration of moms, I think very much about mothers, mine of course (who has passed) but also of the role of “mother”. Being a mother is not solely, a biologically driven title. Mom is a title more universal than just related to a person that gave birth. My wife is a mother, but she never gave birth. Parents of adopted children are moms and dads, just the same. I’ve known many adoptive parents and they are just as attached, just as loving, just as committed, and yes, just as hopeful, frustrated, excited, etc., as biological parents. Mom is sometimes nature but always, nurture.

The universality that I attribute to “mom” comes from my own history. My grandmother served in many ways, as a surrogate mom when I was growing up. I spent many, many days with my grandmother and she in turn, nurtured me in the same ways as my mom. She was a kind but a pious and serious woman; the matriarch of the family. She was about chores, reading, and always, amazing food. My mom somehow, never got the cooking or baking gene from my grandmother. She passed away just shy of 102 and I will always, have cherished memories of her as an “additional” mom in my life.

So, on this Hump Day, I wish all the moms, grandmoms, and mothers to be, a joyous and cherished Mother’s Day. You deserve all the honor and appreciation you receive on Sunday as mom is and always will be, universally symbolic of nurture and care.