Mother’s Day: Best Advice, History & Meaning of Mother

We All Owe Our Success To Motherly Advice like…

  • Always wear clean underwear; you never know when you might have an accident and you don’t want the emergency room doctor to think you wear dirty or torn underwear!
  • Don’t make that face or it’ll freeze in that position.
  • Be careful or you’ll put your eye out.
  • What if everyone jumped off a cliff? Would you do it, too?
  • You have enough dirt behind those ears to grow potatoes!
  • Close that door! Were you born in a barn?
  • If you can’t say something nice, don’t say anything at all.
  • Don’t put that in your mouth; you don’t know where it’s been!

The Meaning of “Mother”

Mother's Day: Painting of Mother and Daughter

M is for the million things she gave me,

O means only that she’s growing old,

T is for the tears she shed to save me,

H is for her heart of purest gold,

E is for her eyes, with love-light shining,

R means right, and right she’ll always be.

Put them all together, they spell “MOTHER“, a word that means the world to me.

–Howard Johnson (c. 1915)

Mother always said that honesty was the best policy, and money isn’t everything.

She was wrong about other things too.

— Gerald Barza

Mother’s Day History

The earliest festivals for honoring the mother figure are pre-Christian in origins, and entwined with the springtime cycle of new life and rebirth.

The ancient Greeks celebrated a day in spring to honor in honor of the wife of Cronus, Rhea, the Mother of all of the gods and goddesses.

Early Christians held a springtime festival in honor of Mary the mother of Jesus.

As the Christian faith spread through Europe, this practice was carried with it and this celebration of the Mother of Christ was gradually extended to the Mother Church and, eventually, to honor all mothers.

Mothering Sunday has been celebrated in Britain on the fourth Sunday in Lent since at least the 16th century.

The custom possibly originated in the church festival of “Refreshment Sunday” when everyone was expected to revisit the church in which they were baptized, their “mother church.”

Many people worked away from home as servants in the homes of the wealthy so had to be given a day off to visit their home church and were encouraged to return to their homes and spend the day with their mothers. Eventually this became the prime purpose of Mothering Sunday.

A special cake, called the mothering cake, was often brought along to provide a festive touch.

Mother’s Day Dating Back to 1872

In the United States, Boston poet, pacifist and Suffragette Julia Ward Howe, (May 27, 1819 to October 17, 1910) first suggested the idea of Mother’s Day in 1872 soon after the Franco-Prussian War.

Howe, who wrote the words to the Battle Hymn of the Republic, was born in New York City into a prominent family.

She married American social reformer Samuel Gridley Howe in 1843 and moved to Boston. She wrote poems and plays and helped her husband edit The Commonwealth, an antislavery paper.

In 1861, during the Civil War, Howe visited military camps near Washington, D.C. There she was inspired to write “The Battle Hymn of the Republic” to be sung to the tune of the popular American song “John Brown’s Body.”

It was published in the Atlantic Monthly two months later and became the major war song of the Union forces.

Howe envisioned that the day would be dedicated to peace, and would hold organized Mother’s Day meetings in Boston, Mass every year.

Creator of Mother’s Day: Anna Jarvis

Anna Jarvis (1864-1948), born in Grafton, West Virginia is credited with bringing about the official observance of Mother’s Day.

She was a spinster who was devoted to her mother, Anna Reese Jarvis who had, in the late 19th century, tried to establish “Mother’s Friendship Days” as a way to heal the scars of the Civil War.

Ms. Jarvis persuaded her mother’s church in Grafton, West Virginia to celebrate Mother’s Day in 1907 on the second anniversary of her mother’s death, the 2nd Sunday of May.

Anna took red carnations, which were her mother’s favorite flower, to the church for the special service.

She then persuaded the church to continue holding a Mother’s Day observance on the second Sunday of every May.

Ms. Jarvis and her supporters began a campaign to establish a national Mother’s Day by writing to ministers, businessman, and politicians.

It was successful. By the next year Mother’s Day was also celebrated in Philadelphia.

In 1910, West Virginia became the first state to recognize Mother’s Day and by 1911 the holiday was celebrated in almost every state.

In May of the year 1913, the House of Representatives adopted a resolution that requested that the President and all other officials of the federal government wear a carnation on Mother’s Day.

President Woodrow Wilson officially proclaimed Mother’s Day as a national holiday in 1914 to be held on the second Sunday of May.

Accomplishment Turned Bitter

But Jarvis’ accomplishment soon turned bitter for her.

Enraged by the commercialization of the holiday, she filed a lawsuit to stop a 1923 Mother’s Day festival and was even arrested for disturbing the peace at a war mothers’ convention where women sold carnations to raise money.

“This is not what I intended,” Jarvis said. “I wanted it to be a day of sentiment, not profit!”

When she died in 1948, at age 84, Jarvis had become a woman of great ironies.

Never a mother herself, her maternal fortune dissipated by her efforts to stop the commercialization of the holiday she had founded, Jarvis told a reporter shortly before her death that she was sorry she had ever started Mother’s Day.

She spoke these words in a nursing home where every Mother’s Day her room had been filled with cards from all over the world.

As the American holiday was adopted by other countries and cultures, the date was changed to fit already existing celebrations honoring motherhood.

— Andy Gilchrist

Happy Mother's Day