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♥ The Women, Goddesses, and Flowers Behind Mother’s Day ♥


Mother’s Day has gone through a number of transformations to become the holiday we know and love today, though flowers have long tied a familiar thread through many of the early conceptions. The earliest iteration of Mother’s Day is, as with so many modern ideas and inventions, credited to the Greeks, who held festivals honoring the mother goddesses Rhea and Cybele. Our current holiday, though, bares stronger resemblance to an early Christian festival called “Mothering Sunday” that was originated during the 1600s in England. Initially “Mothering Sunday” called for the faithful to return to their ‘mother church,’ the main church near their home, for a special holiday service about the Virgin Mary, the mother of Christ. The churches would be decorated with flowers, jewels, and other offerings for “Mothering Sunday.” Over time the tradition become more secular and morphed into today’s practice of children gifting their mothers flowers, small cakes, and other tokens of appreciation.

“Mothering Sunday” did not fare well on the passage to the new world and the United States didn’t have their Mother’s Day until the early 1900s. In 1870, following the Civil War, abolitionist and suffragette Julia Ward Howe made a passionate appeal for world peace in her “Mother’s Day Proclamation.” Her powerful belief in the role played by women in promoting peace lead her to push for an annual holiday to celebrate mothers and, truly, the enormous strength and power of women. Fueled by a deep respect for her own mother, Ann Reeves Jarvis has been credited as the official Founder of Mother’s Day. She helped start “Mother’s Day Work Clubs” to teach local women proper child care and hygiene habits in West Virginia; the clubs eventually spread across the South and welcomed in wounded soldiers for treatment.

Following her mother’s death in 1905, Jarvis began working towards a nationwide holiday honoring the achievement and contributions of mothers. Her personal celebrations began small; she encouraged local children and churchgoers to honor their mothers in May with carnations and handwritten cards. Jarvis wore white carnations, her mother’s favorite flower, as her mother had passed while red and pink carnations were traditional gifts for living mothers. Insulted by the fact holidays typically celebrate male achievements, Jarvis also began a letter writing campaign to newspapers and Congress petitioning for an official holiday. Her efforts paid off when President Woodrow Wilson signed a measure officially declaring the second Sunday in May as Mother’s Day.

Mother’s Day as we know it today, though, has greatly departed from Jarvis’ original vision, so much so she ended up renouncing the holiday and even fighting against it. Even so, the holiday remains as an opportunity to celebrate important women, not just mothers but also women like Julia Ward Howe and Ann Reeve Jarvis who early on fought for more recognition. For the mothers in your life, there are numerous ways to show your affection: with cards (handwritten or otherwise), brunch, helping around the house, and, of course, flowers. Currently pink is traditionally associated with Mother’s Day flowers and some of the most popular Mother’s Day flowers include callas, freesia, gerberas, hydrangeas, irises, lilies, orchids, roses, and tulips. At Richardson’s Flowers, we’ll work with you hand-in-hand to personalize a bouquet with all mom’s favorite flowers and make sure you say thank you in the most meaningful way.

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