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Mother's Day - History and Forms of Celebration

Updated on April 9, 2015

Mother's Day History

Like all events and celebrations, Mother's day has a long history. It all started when an American social activist named Anna Jarvis organized a memorial ceremony for her mother on May 10, 1908 to honor her and all mothers from Andrews Methodist Episcopal Church. However, her idea to make Mother's day a recognized holiday goes way back during 1876 were she found inspiration while attending her Sunday School lessons.

In order to finally make it an established holiday, Jarvis have done numerous things such as writing to different church organizations, politicians, business leaders and other groups that can help her make this commemorative day a legal holiday in US. She was so dedicated on her goal that in 1912 she even left her position as an advertising editor of Fidelity Mutual Life Insurance Company. Due to the impressive efforts done by Anna Jarvis, in 1914 Woodrow Wilson, then the US president signed the decree to celebrate Mother's Day every second Sunday of May establishing it as a national holiday.

photo by: Julien Sister
photo by: Julien Sister | Source


Up to this day, Mother's day is still being celebrated and recognized as a national holiday. Thanks to Anna Jarvis. we have this special day to pay tribute to our loving mothers. However, did you know that in the early 1920s she tried to revoke this holiday due to the commercialization that happened which totally wiped out the true meaning of Mother's Day. A lot of business companies made this day an opportunity to sell products such as greeting cards, flowers, confectionery items and etc. This became a huge hit and the demand for these products gave them the ability to increase its prices.

Anna was dismayed and hurt of how this celebration of honoring mothers turned out into a commercialized business which prompted her to quash this holiday wherein she devoted her life with. She tried to file lawsuits and tore down conventions involved in commercializing this holiday. She continue on her movement till her deteriorating health. It is sad to know that she died hurt and offended by how the event turned out to be.

Celebrating Mother's day around the world

As all of us know, we wouldn't be living in this world without our mothers. They are our source of life, the person who we seek when we needed help, and the one who can cure our pain and worries. In a special day in which we honor our mothers, we have several ways on how we show them how we appreciate them for always being supportive, caring and loving no matter how many mistakes we did in our lives.

In the US, Mother's day is being celebrated by treating her for lunch/dinner, giving gifts, greeting cards and flowers. I would say here in the Philippines, we also do the same thing, we also spend the day with our moms, treating them for a sumptuous meal (if we have the right budget), give them gifts which they have been wanting to have, flowers and cards as well. Sometimes we treat them for spa, or go on a movie date with them.

In Australia, there's a tradition for them to wear colored carnation. Each colors signifies a meaning. A white carnation means the mother of the person wearing it is already deceased while colored carnation signifies the mother is still living. Similar ways of gift-giving is also practiced by Australians, but they also organize social activities that benefits different causes and charities which is a great thing.

Unlike the US, UK celebrates Mother's day on the 4th Sunday of Lent. They honor Mothering Sunday by giving gifts such as jewelries, flowers, chocolates, clothing items and sweets (pastries and cakes). For kids, they usually have activities before Mother's day in which they are tasked to create greeting cards for their mothers and grandmothers.

Children in Japan however wake up early in order to greet their mom with "Haha-no-hi: which simply means Happy Mother's day! Mother's day in japan is also celebrated on the 2nd Sunday of may but unlike other countries gifts and cards in not a common thing they give their mothers. They honor their mother by giving them flowers as a symbol of their love and appreciation. Carnation is the most common flower they give to them as it signifies purity and mildness.

As you can see, Mother's Day is widely celebrated across the globe. It doesn't matter how as long as you have your own way of paying tribute to your mothers. How do you celebrate Mother's day in your country? Share your stories below.


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