This weekend my mom and I loaded up the car and headed north for Idaho Falls. Besides the joys of taking a mother-daughter road trip, we were going to visit a handful of grandparents and my brother, who recently moved there.
The weekend was spent among family, flowers and wine, each generation (four in one room!) performing duties of gratitude for their mother, sister, and other lovely ladies in each of our lives.
Mother’s Day is an interesting holiday. I comes from a long international history of celebrating mothers and has prevailed through times of turmoil, even the creator of America’s national day denouncing the holiday all together. Here are a few thoughts to hopefully keep you remembering the essence of Mother’s Day year-round.
Celebrating mothers extends back to ancient times, when Greeks and Romans held festivals to honor their mother goddesses Rhea and Cybele. The tradition continued throughout Europe through a Christian festival held during Lent. But the Mother’s Day that we recognize today started in the early 20th century with Anna Jarvis.
Anna’s mother, Ann Reeves Jarvis, began Mother’s Day Work Clubs in the late 1800s to teach women how to raise their children. The clubs later became a way unite families during and after the Civil War. After Ann’s death in 1905, Anna got the idea for a day that celebrated mothers and their sacrifices. Anna came to recognize that there was an unequal amount of national holidays that celebrate men, and began petitioning for Mother’s Day to become a nationally recognized holiday, which was granted by Woodrow Wilson in 1914.
Even before its presidential endorsement, Mother’s Day quickly became a popular holiday around the country. Of course, it didn’t take long for florists and card companies to take advantage of the need for Mother’s Day gifts and began avidly marketing Mother’s Day products. Outraged by the commercialization of Mother’s Day, Anna eventually denounced the holiday and spent her personal wealth on lawyers to get the holiday removed from the national calendar, but she never succeeded.
Anna Jarvis’s original intent for Mother’s Day was for people to wear a single white carnation as a badge while taking the day to attend church and visit one’s mother. The idea of flowers as the perfect Mother’s Day gift has blossomed and today the industry makes over $2 billion from Mother’s Day alone and over 140 million cards get sent to mothers (interestingly there are only about 83 million mothers in the U.S.).
With such extreme numbers, it’s easy to see what Anna Jarvis was upset about. I certainly was guilty of spending money on multiple bouquets, cards and Mother’s Day knick knacks, but I think there’s more to this holiday than cold consumer habits.
In Ethiopia, families gather each fall to sing songs and indulge in a large feast as part of Antrosht, a multi-day celebration honoring motherhood. Even in the U.S., Mother’s Day has been used to do more than spend money. Coretta Scott King, wife of Martin Luther King Jr., used Mother’s Day in 1968 to host a march in support of underprivileged women and children. In the 1970s, women’s groups used the holiday to promote the need for equal rights and access to childcare.
Around the world and even throughout our own culture, Mother’s Day is clearly about more than a card and obligatory phone call (although, more phone calls are made on Mother’s Day than any other day of the year). I find myself passionately agreeing with Anna Jarvis’s initial motivations behind Mother’s Day: to give women a day in the national calendar, and to have a day to celebrate mothers and their sacrifices. Although Anna eventually felt that the holiday lost its original heart, I have a hard time agreeing.
This weekend, I not only celebrated my mother, but my whole family. I dined with grandmas and grandpas, I talked with my great grandmother, I joked with my brother, I spoke with aunts and uncles, I learned about my cousins, I congratulated newly-mothering friends, I caught up with my dad and cuddled with my mom. It was a weekend devoted to appreciating family and celebrating the women that hold it together. Because, of course, mother’s don’t want it to just be about them, they want the day to be about the people they love and care for, a demonstration of the truly generous spirit of motherhood.
Although Mother’s Day has passed this year, we still have another chance to honor our parents and grandparents…for Father’s Day! If you’re looking for a way to truly honor your parents, think about buying them a timeshare resale. The gift of a vacation home says more than thank you for life, but thank you for the memories we have yet to create together. Bring the family together every year with a Park City timeshare in the idyllic Wasatch Mountains or relax on the beach with your family in a Florida timeshare. Our licensed timeshare agents can help you find the perfect gift that keeps on giving!