Aunt Louise and Uncle Bob – Mother’s Day

Dear Auntie Louise and Uncle Bob: Thank you for the great advice on Cinco de Mayo I worked ahead on projects and studying so I had time to try out several Mexican restaurants—they had special prices and lots of decorations. There was a party in my student center Friday afternoon too—I made some new friends. But now, I too, have a question…can you tell me, is this celebration of “Mother’s Day” the same thing as “Mothering Sunday” at home?

Uncle Bob: “Mothering Sunday?” I know about “Mother’s Day”—we’ve been honoring our mother’s since we were little tykes ourselves, but I don’t rightly know about “Mothering Sunday….” They sound related, for sure. Louise, do you think one came from the other?

Aunt Louise: There are many celebrations of motherhood around the world, going back even thousands of years. The Christian ‘Mothering Sunday” was originally a commemoration of the “Mother Church,” not motherhood, and there is a Catholic “Virgin Mary Sunday,” but over time, many countries have moved to a day that honors and celebrates one’s own mother, although plenty of folks celebrate both meanings, some at different times. Bob, why don’t you go ahead and tell us what you know about “Mother’s Day” in the USA?

Uncle Bob: “Mother’s Day” was first celebrated in 1908 at St. Andrews Methodist church in West Virginia. Anna Jarvis started it to honor her own mother, Anna R. Jarvis, a peace activist who cared for injured soldiers on both sides of the American Civil War, and who addressed public health issues. It became a national holiday in 1914, but was recognized and celebrated in all the U.S. states in 1911.

Aunt Louise: That’s right, Bob! And, in 1912 Anna Jarivs, trademarked the phrase “Mother’s Day” and “Second Sunday in May.” She said it should always be written in the singular possessive, and that everyone should write personal notes to their own mother. She said a white carnation should be the flower given to one’s mother.

Uncle Bob: Anna Jarvis didn’t like card, candy and flower-sellers making a bunch of “Mother’s Day Gifts.” (She called it commercialization. Most folks call it marketing.) Folks liked her idea of honoring their mothers, but they enjoyed different ways of celebrating. I’ve never been one for writing poetry, so I’ve always liked the store-bought cards, myself, and I much prefer roses to Carnations. My brother, Earl, liked to bring our Mama a lily plant, because a lily meant “motherhood” in China, and Earl said that was a good enough reason.

Aunt Louise: Well, my family didn’t have much money to buy flowers or gifts when we were growing up, but we always had roses growing in the garden. Mama wore a white rose pinned to her dress on Mother’s Day. My sister and I always wore pink roses to church on Mother’s Day, sometimes red as we got older. After our mama died we wore white roses too, to honor our mother. Later our daughters got us white orchid corsages—symbolizing love, beauty and many children. Some other traditions are making mamma breakfast in bed on Mother’s Day morning. (We didn’t do that in our family, but many families do.) Children would usually make cards and gifts for their mamas—nowadays, these seem to be purchased more often. The important thing was being together with the family.

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