Traditions of Mothers Day and Mothering Sunday have different origins dependant on whether you are in England or the United States.
In England the traditions were that churchgoers in England worshipped at their nearest parish or ‘daughter church’ to where they lives. It was considered important for people to return to their home or ‘mother’ church once a year. So each year in the middle of Lent, everyone would visit their ‘mother’ church – the main church or cathedral of the area.
This evolved into an occasion and the return to the ‘mother’ church each year became the time for family reunions when children who were working away returned home. Especially as it was quite common in those days for children to leave home for work once they were ten years old.
Historians believe that it was the return to the ‘Mother’ church which led to the tradition of children, particularly those working as domestic servants, or as apprentices, being given the day off to visit their mother and family. Children would gather wild flowers including wild violets on the way to the church for their mothers as a gift.
I can remember as a child being given a small bunch of violets at the door of our church to give to my my mum when we sat down. It has taken me all these years to find out the real reason why this happened. I just loved how it pleased my mum, plus her name was Violet, so a double gift for her.
In the US the tradition isn’t as old but just as lovely. Mothers Day holiday in the US began in the mid 1900s when Anna Jarvis, daughter of Ann Reeves Jarvis and following the death of her mother in 1905, the idea being conceived as a tribute and honouring not just her mother but all mothers for the sacrifice they make to their children.
Anna gained the backing from John Wanamaker and in May 1908 she organised the first official Mothers Day celebration in a Methodist Church in Grafton, West Virginia. On the same day an event was held in Philadelphia at one of John Wanamaker’s stores.
It took Anna Jarvis until 1912 for Mothers Day to be fully followed but she campaigned hard until it did. If you would like to read a more in depth version of Anna Jarvis’s story click the link here
We wish you all a very Happy Mothers Day xx
ng that American holidays were biased toward male achievements, she started a massive letter writing campaign to newspapers and prominent politicians urging the adoption of a special day honoring motherhood.
By 1912 many states, towns and churches had adopted Mother’s Day as an annual holiday, and Jarvis had established the Mother’s Day International Association to help promote her cause. Her persistence paid off in 1914 when President Woodrow Wilson signed a measure officially establishing the second Sunday in May as Mother’s Day.
While Jarvis had initially worked with the floral industry to help raise Mother’s Day’s profile, by 1920 she had become disgusted with how the holiday had been commercialized. She outwardly denounced the transformation and urged people to stop buying Mother’s Day flowers, cards and candies.
Jarvis eventually resorted to an open campaign against Mother’s Day profiteers, speaking out against confectioners, florists and even charities. She also launched countless lawsuits against groups that had used the name “Mother’s Day,” eventually spending most of her personal wealth in legal fees. By the time of her death in 1948 Jarvis had disowned the holiday altogether, and even actively lobbied the government to see it removed from the American calendar.
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