For years, I figured that Mother’s Day was simply another modern-day holiday invented by the Hallmark greeting card marketing department and the nationwide association of florists for generating revenue, but in fact it dates back several millennia to the days of ancient Greece in an annual spring festival honoring Rhea, the mother of all deities.
Mother’s Day didn’t become an official holiday in the United States until 1914. Americans can thank the foresight and grit of a woman named Anna Jarvis who, deeply devoted to her own mother, helped to make Mother’s Day an official U.S. holiday.
As you may imagine, nothing was ever easy when dealing with bureaucrats at the highest levels, but Anna’s uphill struggle finally began paying off in 1910 when the governor of West Virginia declared Mother’s Day a state holiday on the second Sunday in May. As a result of her efforts, the Mother’s Day International Association was formed on December 12, 1912 to promote and encourage meaningful observances of the event. The House of Representatives in May 1913 unanimously adopted a resolution requesting the President, his cabinet, the members of both Houses and all officials of the federal government to wear a white carnation on Mother’s Day. The following year, every other state followed suit, and in 1914, President Woodrow Wilson signed a bill declaring Mother’s Day a Federal Holiday to be recognized on the second Sunday of May. The main thing Anna Jarvis wanted to accomplish was for Mother’s Day to increase people’s respect for parents and strengthen family bonds.
The original celebrations of Mother’s Day were private affairs mostly involving children and family members who accompanied their moms to church ceremonies designed for the special occasion, and this is exactly what Anna Jarvis intended, but in time she became disillusioned with her own creation as she saw it becoming more of a family obligation than a true gathering of family and friends sincerely interacting with their mothers.
Eventually, Mother’s Day evolved into a modern occasion where many people express their admiration and thankfulness for their mothers, most often by sending elaborate and expensive flower arrangements and chocolates. The celebration has grown to sometimes outrageous, commercialized proportions, and many moms have been overwhelmed by the spectacles. Mothers enjoy being told how much we appreciate them, and spending some close, reflective time with them is far most valuable than anything else we can do, and doing this on a more regular basis would make them happier year around. In reality, a mother can be perfectly content with one rose, a personal visit, a phone call and especially a hug.
Sure, most moms don’t mind being pampered on their special day, but it isn’t necessary. For mothers with older or grown children, knowing their kids truly appreciate and care for them is the most important gift they can receive.
Here’s the Mother’s Day message that I’m giving to my mom this year and during every conversation or meeting that we have in the future, and I offer it to you for use as well; I’m going to say, “Mom, I love you,” because I surely do.