While we can trace customs honoring the matriarchs back to Greek and Roman times, the holiday as we know it today has its roots in the late 19th century. Although now a sentimental holiday, Mother’s Day has an interesting history that didn’t even begin as an homage to motherhood. In fact, it originated during a very hard and dark era in American history.
In the 1860’s, women gathered in social clubs to support each other; Ann Reeves Jarvis, who founded the clubs, taught women how to effectively raise children often without their fathers. After the Civil War had ended, the meetings became a venue for mothers of Confederate and Union soldiers to interact to promote reconciliation. “Mother’s Friendship Day,” as it was called, was a somber event with mothers comforting each other on the loss of their collective sons. Similarly, in 1870, activist Julia Ward Howe issued a “Mother’s Day Proclamation,” encouraging women to become politically involved in promoting world peace.
In 1908, three years after Ann Reeves Jarvis passed away, her daughter Anna spearheaded a local Mother’s Day celebration in Grafton, West Virginia, held in her mom’s honor. She successfully got the holiday on the national calendar in 1914; ironically, she hated that people began to use the term “Mother’s Day” to sell consumer products, and spent the latter years of her life trying to cancel the holiday she fought so hard to begin.
The pink carnation is considered the original flower of Mother’s Day; although in recent years, pink roses – representative of gratitude and appreciation – are the most popular flower purchased on this day. Roses, orchids, lilies or gerbera daisies – any of these spring flowers make gorgeous arrangements for your mother. The day may have begun as a way for women to cope with hard times, but now it is one of our most cherished traditions to celebrate the women we love. On May 8, send her flowers or gifts from Griffin’s Floral Designs – because she is the best mom in history!