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You probably celebrate her all year long, but your Mom still does get an official date on the calendar in her honor: Mother's Day, of course! This year, with social distancing practices still in place in many parts of the country, you may not be able to see her in person. But don't let the day pass without letting her know how much she means to you. You can send her a Mother's Day gift or a handmade Mother's Day craft. We even compiled a list of Mother's Day activities (with even some virtual or long-distance options!). We'd never pass on the opportunity to thank the most important women in our lives for everything they've done, but we do have a few questions surrounding this holiday's origins and its present day manifestation.
For starters: When is Mother's Day, anyway? We know it's in May, but we can never remember the exact date. While we're on the topic, does that date change from year to year? And finally, how long have we been celebrating this beautiful holiday in an official capacity—and whose idea was it to start celebrating in the first place?
Here, we're diving deeper into the history of the wholesome holiday we all know and love—and we're going way than the obvious elements, like delicious brunch spreads, thoughtful gifts, and sentimental DIY Mother's Day cards.
When is Mother's Day?
This year, Mother's Day is on Sunday, May 9, 2021. Although the date changes year-to-year, Mother's Day is always held on the second Sunday of May—similarly to how Thanksgiving falls on the fourth Thursday of November.
Why do we celebrate Mother's Day?
Anna Jarvis, an activist who lived from 1864 to 1948, is credited with being the "mother" of Mother's Day. (Although, interestingly enough, she never had any children of her own.)
Anna's mother, Anne Jarvis, hosted clubs for moms in the 1850s to help them learn to properly care for their children in order to lower the infant mortality rate, according to National Geographic. After Anne's passing in 1905, Anna was determined to honor her mother's legacy. On May 10, 1908, Anna organized the first Mother's Day–related function in her hometown of Grafton, West Virginia.
Anna's hard work to respect her late mother was so impressive that President Woodrow Wilson officially declared Mother's Day a national holiday in 1914. (He was also the one who decided it should fall on the second Sunday in May.)
Unfortunately, Anna's dream of cherishing her mother and what she believed in didn't last long. Soon, Mother's Day became commercialized by florists, greeting card vendors, and candy companies—or, as Anna preferred to call them, "schemers" and "profiteers," according to BuzzFeed. Despite her valiant efforts to try and recapture the true meaning of Mother's Day, the day was completely transformed from giving back to charity to giving gifts. A Reader's Digest reporter captured Anna's disappointment with the alteration and noted: "[Anna] told me, with terrible bitterness, that she was sorry she ever started Mother’s Day," according to BuzzFeed.
Despite her disapproval of what Mother's Day has become, there is a part of the holiday she might accept: the gifting of bouquets of flowers. National Geographic reports that the white carnation has always been the official bloom of the holiday. Apparently, it was Anne's favorite flower.
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