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The Meaning and Origin of Mother’s Day

Mother’s Day is credited to Anna Jarvis after the death of her own mother in 1908. She conceived the idea as a way of honouring the sacrifices mothers made for their children. She organised the first celebration at a church in West Virginia USA. After the huge success, she successfully lobbied to politicians and the media at the time to have Mother’s Day recognised on the National Calendar.

In 1914, the second Sunday in May was officially named Mother’s Day under a proclamation from US President Wilson. Anna Jarvis envisioned the holiday as a day for everyone to visit their mother and to wear a white carnation as this was her mother’s favourite flower. Soon after, card companies and florists began to capitalise on the popularity of the day.

As the tradition of gifting carnations on Mother’s Day grew, carnation colors took on new symbolism. White carnations are meant to honor the memory of deceased mothers while red and pink carnations honour those who are living.

In 1920, Anna was so horrified by the commercialisation of Mother’s Day that she launched a law suit against companies who started to use the term mother’s day in their sales. This was clearly unsuccessful.

Mother’s Day continues to be a holiday celebrated around the world. Australia follows the US tradition of the second Sunday in May.  In the United Kingdom, Mother’s Day (also known as ‘Mothering Sunday’) is celebrated in England, Scotland and Ireland on the fourth Sunday in Lent so the date changes every year.

Mother’s Day is celebrated around the world from as early as March in the UK to December in Indonesia. Every country has a different meaning for the date but at the end of the day, it is all to honour mother’s.

You can avoid the commercialism by hand making a card or giving love in action on mother’s day. It is not about the gift. If you talk to most mums, it is fun to get a gift but the fact of feeling honoured for a day is enough gratitude.

So on this Mother’s Day, however you celebrate, I wish you some precious time of feeling valued and loved today.

Article by Jannine Barron

Acknowledgements to Dani Smallwood for the inspiration and – PBB Media among other sources.

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