What Is Mother’s Day All About?

By | August 19, 2017

We all have a special bond to our moms so why not show it on this special day? So, what is Mother’s Day all about and how did it begin?

Well, quite simply it is a day to celebrate and honor all mothers, stepmothers, mother-in-laws, and guardians (eg. foster parents).

Gifts usually given to mother’s include a card, flowers, chocolates, breakfast in bed, and even a meal out. But there is so much more to this day, so please read on.

Mother's Day

There is some similarity between this day and Father’s Day. Both of these special days can be traced back to about two thousand years. Although there are a number of different origins associated with Mother’s Day. I will go through each of these in this post.

Before I begin to tell you the origin of Mother’s Day!

Before I do begin though I just want to point out why I have added such a subject to a genealogy website. As I have researched my ancestry for a number of years now I have grown to appreciate my family more.

From time to time we take things for granted, and this is especially true for our family who are always there for us.

When you research your family’s history you learn to appreciate them more. Not only do you start to comprehend the hardships that they may have endured, as well as the sacrifices, but also the distances that they may have traveled in order to find work or to start a new life.

It is also true to say that if it wasn’t for the life choices that they made that we wouldn’t be here today.

If it wasn’t for your great grandfather, say who traveled to the new world, then you may not be here at all. It’s worth thinking about!

Credit:   Ancestry

Special Dates:

Mother’s Day (UK) – 4th Sunday of Lent

Mother’s Day (Australia/Canada/US) – 2nd Sunday of May

==> Click here to check out other Special Family Days <==

When Did Mother’s Day Start?

Although this recent convention began in America in the early 20th Century it does have its origins in Ancient Greece and Rome. The Greeks and Romans worshiped the mother goddesses Rhea and Cybele.

Both of these women were described as the mother of the gods. These ancient goddesses symbolized both fertility and the bounty of the earth.

Ancient Greece

Another example of paying respect comes from a European Christian event held during Lent called Mothering Sunday. This occurred three weeks before Easter Sunday, the fourth Sunday of Lent to be precise.

Celebrating the beginning of life at the Mother Church!

Parishioners would return to the church where they were baptized and began their early life. This church was known as the Mother Church. This special service though did not celebrate motherhood.

This celebration though in time became secular, meaning free from religion. On this day children would present their mothers with flowers and gifts. During the 1930s and 1940s this custom morphed into the American version of Mother’ Day that we all know of today.

Because of this many people in Britain blame America for changing the name from Mothering Sunday to Mother’s Day. The British though in fact changed the meaning of this event themselves.

Mother’s Day in America

The Americans can thank the Mother of Mother’s Day Anna Jarvis for giving mothers their own special day. Anna’s mother Ann Reeves Jarvis set up Mother’s Day Work Clubs in the 1850s.

One of the purposes of the clubs was to improve sanitary conditions. She would teach mothers how to properly care for their children and so help to reduce the infant mortality.

Mother's Day in America

Later on the clubs helped wounded soldiers during the American Civil War of 1861 to 1865. After the Civil War had ended Ann created a Mother’s Friendship Day.

This particular day saw mothers of veterans from the Confederacy and the Union united. Ann was a peace activist and treated wounded soldiers from both sides of the war.

Anna wanted a special day for all mothers!

After her mother’s death in 1905, Anna sought for a special day to not only celebrate all mothers but her own mother Ann. She had help from a businessman and as a result of this held events in 1908 in the cities of Grafton, West Virginia and Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Grafton was her family’s hometown and Philadelphia was where Anna moved to.

She wrote to clergymen, educators and politicians to help spread this special day all over America. As a result of this it soon spread over the United States within a few years.

By 1914 President Woodrow Wilson proclaimed that the second Sunday of May would be Mother’s Day. This day would be used to express love and respect for all mothers of America.

Happy Mother's DayTo Anna’s resentment this special day became commercialized. Retailers would sell flowers, candy and cards for people to give to their mothers. By 1920 Anna no longer wanted to be associated with Mother’s Day.

She even went as far as urging people not to buy gifts for their mothers. Anna rather wanted people to show their love for their mothers not by buying gifts but rather by writing letters.

Earlier in 1912 Anna attempted to secure a trademark for Mother’s Day and also the phrase “second Sunday in May”. She was also adamant that the spelling of the day was Mother’s and not Mothers, the latter means commemorating all mothers.

Anna turned her back on what Mother’s Day had become!

She even tried to threaten lawsuits by suing the infringers, i.e. the retailers who were making a profit. While protesting Mother’s Day she was arrested for disturbing the peace. Surprisingly or interestingly Anna never married and she herself was never a mother.

Red Carnations

As Anna’s mother loved carnations this became the official flower of Mother’s Day. A red carnation is a symbol for honoring a living mother, while a white carnation honors a mother that is no longer with us.

When Is Mother’s Day?

So you may be asking yourself when is Mother’s Day? Most countries have adopted the second Sunday in May. However, fifteen countries observe March 8th as the day to honor their mothers. This day is also known as International Women’s Day.

The World

The United Kingdom, Ireland and Nigeria themselves celebrate this special day on the fourth Sunday of Lent. The United States, Canada and Australia spoil their mothers on the second Sunday of May.

Why not check out other dates that countries all over the world celebrate Mother’s Day.

Spoil Mom With A Family Tree Wall Decal

There is nothing more special than giving your mom a gift that clearly shows you have put a lot of thought into it. So if she is interested in genealogy then how about buying her a family tree wall decal kit. With this kit she can proudly display her family tree which can make a great feature wall.

There are four steps to take to put the decal on your wall. Firstly, you will need to cut out the individual pieces. After that you just peel off the backing paper and then apply to your wall.

Then the final step is to remove the peel transfer sheet from the back.

Once you have applied the decal it will just blend into the wall as it looks just like paint. It can really make an impression to any house guest. It can be put in the foyer, living or dining room, or maybe she would like it in her bedroom.

Please note though that this is just the wall decal. You will also need to buy the photo frames as well to finish off this stunning feature for your mother. May I suggest this set of 10 solid wood frames.

They will definitely complete your mother’s family tree wall decal.

Thank You and Please Leave A Comment

I hope you enjoyed this article regarding what is Mother’s Day all about. If you think that this post will be helpful to others then please share it with friends and family using the social media buttons below.

If you have any questions or comments then please leave a comment below. I would love to hear from you.

36 thoughts on “What Is Mother’s Day All About?

  1. Riaz Shah

    Hey there Owain,
    Your article made me feel so grateful for having my mum, i’m feeling like getting her a birthday gift right about now 😀

    She is totally against mother’s day because everytime I wanna celebrate with her, she comes back saying “Mothers shouldn’t be treated this special once a year, they should be treated special everyday”

    1. Owain Post author

      Aww, I’m glad that my post made you feel that way. That’s great.

      I understand what your mother is saying. I hear that from my father as well for his day, although for a different reason. He too believes that it has become commercialised but we still celebrate with him regardless. And secretlyhe appreciates it too, lol.

  2. Adrian Prince

    Hi Owain
    Despite being commercialised as it is, it’s still a wonderful tradition, and I think anything that brings families together is a good thing. Just about everybody I know loves to give their mother a present on Mother’s day. It was interesting to read some of the history of it and what happened to Anna Jarvis who started it.

    1. Owain Post author

      True it has become commercialised but it is important to remember why we celebrate this day. It was quite interesting finding out all the facts about this story. You may also be interested in my Father’s Day article as well.

  3. Chris Harris

    Great article and very articulate on the history of Mother’s Day. You must have done alot of research to put this together. Thanks for sharing!

    1. Owain Post author

      It did take a while to get all the facts and put it together. I like stories like this as they can be quite interesting to find out the origins.

  4. Lainey

    Hi Owain. I found this article informative. I did not know the origins of Mother’s Day! Interesting to learn of the strife Anna Jarvis faced with keeping her commemoration for all Mothers, the way she wanted. Typical commercialism taking over, just like for Christmas. Our Mothers are dear, and honoring them on their special day is one of those traditions that should always be marked on the annual calendar.

    1. Owain Post author

      Yes that is certainly true about the commercialism, especially even Christmas. So it is important to remember the true meaning. We can also enlighten people about the origins of this day and hope that people will enjoy it more for what the day is truly about.

  5. ben

    Nice article! Maybe it is just me but I did not know that carnations were officially mother’s day flowers till I read your post. Very informative! Thank you!

    1. Owain Post author

      You’re not the only one. I didn’t know myself until I was researching this. But maybe that’s because we’re male, lol. It was interesting also to note that red and white signify different things also.

  6. Mijareze

    I enjoyed your post about the origin of Mother’s Day. I had never heard about the way Mother’s Day began. Reading you artical was educational.
    The only Mother’s Day I celebrate is my wife’s mother’s Day since my mom died about 18 years ago. I think it’s a good holiday to celebrate, mother’s deserve it.
    Thank you,
    Edward Mijarez

    1. Owain Post author

      You are right they do deserve it. They have done so much for us, from raising us as babies to young adults and even as adults. They are always there for us

  7. Matt's Mom

    Seems like Mother’s Day and Father’s Day started around the same time frame. I think it is a bit commercialized. My son hand makes me a card every year that touches my heart more than anything. For me, that is hands down the best gift he could give me. What he writes just makes my heart melt. Everything is definitely too commercialized these days.

    1. Owain Post author

      It has become commercialised but I guess that’s how the world works these days. Your son has the right idea as this was the original concept of this special day. I love that your son actually makes the card rather than going out and buying one. We should all do this for our mothers

  8. rule2020

    Very nice article. Before I read your blog, I knew so little about Mother’s Day and I have to thank you for giving me enough knowledge and reasons to honor the most important woman in my life.

    Mothers are the ones who nurtured us from the very beginning of our existence. They are the ones we run to when nobody else remain on our side. They truly deserve to be honored.

    1. Owain Post author

      I am glad that I have been able to give you more knowledge about this special day. I am also happy to hear that your mother is the most important woman in your life. That’s lovely

  9. ariefw

    Interesting. I never thought that Mother’s Day as a Goddess day.

    Cool history.

    Anyway, in Indonesia, we celebrate Mother’s Day on December 22nd. That’s why it is a bit weird when I’m on the internet and saw all the posting about Mother’s Day even though it is not December 22nd.

    I think old habit dies hard, huh?

    1. Owain Post author

      It’s interesting that this day is celebrated all over the world. But different countries celebrate it on different days.

      The reason I wrote this post was because I wrote about Father’ Day – What Is Father’s Day All About?. I did this as Father’s Day is coming up shortly here in Australia. And like Mother’s Day this day is celebrated on different days all over the world

  10. Sherry

    Hello Owain,
    I love the theme being a mom myself. I really like the fact that you mentioned when others around the world celebrate Mother’s Day. To me I like reading something and learning something new. I myself just celebrate the day and really didn’t give it a thought about its rich history. Thank you for providing such an enlightening article. Do you mind if I share it on FB?~Sherry

    1. Owain Post author

      It is quite an interesting story behind the day. Also, that it is celebrated on different days for different countries. I like learning new things, it enriches us.

      Please feel free to share on Facebook, and other posts if you like

  11. Carol

    A fascinating article. I never knew all of this before. Unfortunately, Anna would be very disappointed in the way Mother’s Day is commercialized today. But I agree with her, it should be more about showing love and respect for our mothers rather than just buying them expensive gifts. Thank you for the history lesson.

    1. Owain Post author

      Sometimes it is important to understand the real meaning to days like this. I’m sure mothers would appreciate it more as well

  12. TBonki

    Hi Owain,
    I found this so interesting and informative – I didn’t know that Mother’s Day originated because of the Mother Gods Rhea and Cybele in Ancient Greece and Rome. I think it’s important to remember this day so I am glad you have dedicated a post to it.

    1. Owain Post author

      Thank you for enjoying this post. It was a pleasure to research it and write it

  13. Paul Copeland

    This is a great site loads of information. I’m using some suggested resources to look at my genealogy. The Copeland is an old family and we can trace it all the back to North Umber, where Richard Copeland killed the ruler of Scotland on the orders of the king of England. He did get all his teeth knocked out during the battle but he was given much land in Scotland. During the civil war Ruben and Zachary Copeland fought on opposites sides and we kind of lose the thread there. Thanks for the info and I will swing by again.

    1. Owain Post author

      Woh, an interesting family story you have. Thank you for liking my site. Please do come by regularly as I am always adding interesting facts and guides

  14. Travis Smithers

    I always like being able to check out where some of our events have evolved from the past to present. It is quite surprising some of the details you can find out about things if you dig deep enough.

    Liked your article and some of the other comments are great as well. Its articles like this that can get you thinking of a lot of things we may take for granted.

    1. Owain Post author

      It is interesting to find out the true meaning behind things like this. You can also educate other people as well

  15. Judy Kingsberry@outlook.com

    I find a lot of interest in trying to find my ancestors. I used to be able to log in a site, and look for background information and who was so and so. Now it costs money.

    As far as Mother’s Day, I do not celebrate it from any pagan holiday or tradition. I can “celebrate” it any time I wish. I loved my mom, but I did not need a date to tell her so. I do not need a date, like the pagans used in their celebrations. Pagans all had certain dates to celebrate their holidays.

    1. Owain Post author

      It is interesting to find one’s ancestors. Unfortunately yes it does cost money, but these fees do go toward many things. Things such as transcribing records, maintenance cost, help and support for users, and so on.

      As you said it is important to show our love to our mother always. True that there is the pagan origin but this is a modern invention. It has though turned very commercial.

  16. Andrew

    Hi! Really interesting article. So many information about one day. I really appreciate, that you wrote this great overview.
    Thanks and best wishes

    1. Owain Post author

      Thank you and I am glad that you like it. It is really fascinating about the origins for this day.

  17. Arthur Siew

    Mother is awesome and I really realise how much I love my mom. I never thought of the origin of mother day, I never know they have a roman origin

    1. Owain Post author

      It has quite an interesting background to Mother’s Day. I quite enjoyed putting this post together.


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