Did you know that, while Canadians will celebrate Mother’s Day on Sunday, May 13 this year, Mother’s Day is celebrated across the globe any time from February through December. Most countries will be celebrating Mother’s Day along with us; however, many Middle Eastern countries commemorate Mother’s Day on March 20th, in conjunction with the vernal equinox (their New Year). And many former Soviet Republics celebrate Mother’s Day on March 8th. You can find the list of all the countries and the dates that each observe Mother’s Day here.
Although this day has become tainted with commercialism over the years, its origins date to about 1873 – long before FTD Florists and Hallmark Cards. Following the American Civil War, Anna R. Jarvis began a celebration to honour both the Yankee and Confederate dead and to reunite families divided by the war. After her death, her daughter Anna M. carried on the tradition of Mother’s Day, placing white carnations on her mother’s grave and giving us the tradition of flowers for Mother’s Day.
As you might guess, within a few decades Mother’s Day had been commercialized beyond recognition. Anna became disillusioned and even petitioned to copyright the words Mother’s Day to prevent florists further capitalizing on the celebration. It was too deeply entrenched in the American psyche, though, and Anna went to her grave a blind, poor and childless woman. Ironically, the Florists’ Exchange, a newspaper for the florist industry, paid for Anna’s care until her death. If you’d like to learn more about the history of Mother’s Day and celebrations taking place around the world, you can visit this link.
So, rather than buying flowers or taking your mother out to brunch this year, why not look to the history of this day for other ways to honour mothers all over the world. Perhaps you would like to take your mother to church to say a prayer for soldiers everywhere who risk their lives day in and day out; become a pen pal to a soldier serving overseas; give blood that might help to save a soldier’s life; donate to the Military Families Fund to support our troops and their families in time of need.
If you want to honour your mother with flowers, if she is still living, you could give her red or pink carnations. If you are leaving flowers on your mother’s grave, they should be white carnations. Whatever you do to honour mothers this year, do it with a prayer in your heart for everlasting peace.