Mother’s Day History and Traditions

Now that I’m an adult, I’ve been working on continuing and establishing traditions. During the holidays is when the most traditions happen, and I’m realizing that I don’t have a good list of traditions or what they mean. So I did some research online, and have my results to share with you all.

Ann Reeves Jarvis was a peace activist who cared for wounded soldiers on both sides of the Civil War. She created Mother’s Day Work Clubs to address public health issues and...

Mother’s Day History

Ann Reeves Jarvis was a peace activist who cared for wounded soldiers on both sides of the Civil War. She created Mother’s Day Work Clubs to address public health issues and in 1868, Jarvis organized “Mothers’ Friendship Day,”  at which mothers gathered with former Union and Confederate soldiers to promote reconciliation. In 1905, Ann passed away and her daughter Anna Jarvis began campaigning for a national day to honor all mothers. The idea didn’t take off until 1910 when John Wanamaker celebrated it at Bethany Temple Presbyterian Church, where he was a founder. Slowly several states accepted the holiday while some declared it trifle. In 1914 Woodrow Wilson signed the proclamation creating Mother’s Day, the second Sunday in May, as a national holiday to honor mothers. By the 1920s, Hallmark and other companies began taking advantage of the holiday, selling flowers, candy, and greeting cards. Anna Jarvis became so bitter over the commercialization of her holiday that she began to campaign to have it revoked. She was even arrested once in 1948 for “disturbing the peace” while protesting.

Mother’s day was soon adopted by other countries and cultures, though some dates were changed to align it to pre-existing celebrations of motherhood. Some countries chose a date that was significant to that country’s majority religion or has historical significance. Some ex-communist countries celebrate the socialist “International Women’s Day” instead. “Mothering Sunday” in the United Kingdom is sometimes referred to as “Mother’s Day” even though its an unrelated celebration.

Mother’s Day Traditions

Mother’s day traditions include: breakfast in bed, going to church, giving gifts to mothers, pampering mothers, and sharing a meal.

Its said that Anna Jarvis and her mother had a garden of red carnations, thus it is the official flower of Mother’s Day. It’s tradition to give a red carnation to a living mother and to present a white carnation to a deceased mother.

In the UK, many “Mothering Sunday” traditions overlap with Mother’s Day, such as making rich almond cake for mothers called ‘Mothering Cake‘ or ‘Simnel Cake‘.

In Italy, they have a big feast and present a cake made in the shape of a heart.

In France, mom is presented with a cake that looks like a bouquet of flowers. During a time after WWI, mothers with four or five children were awarded a bronze medal; those with six or seven children would receive a silver medal, and eight or more offspring garnered the gold.

In Germany, for a time after WWII, medals were awarded in gold, silver or bronze, based upon how many children were in the household.

In Mexico, they will play the song “las mañanitas” (a Mexican birthday song) at mass and give tamales and atole, the traditional early-morning meal to all local mothers.

In Ethiopia, they make a traditional hash recipe. Then the women will dance and the men will sing songs in honor of family and heroes. This cycle of feasting and celebration lasts two or three days.

In Serbia, Mother’s day is celebrated in succession with Father’s day and Children’s day in December. On Children’s Day, children are tied up and must agree to behave before they are untied. On Mother’s Day, mom’s tied up, where she will remain until she supplies yummy treats and small gifts to her children. On Father’s day, the dads are tied up with rope until they give their families Christmas gifts. After this, everybody feasts.


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Mother's Day History and Traditions - I'm an Adult So Now What?


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