Mother's Day: Setting the Record Straight

I've seen many many many posts about Mother's Day. Not surprising considering I mostly frequent the blogs of Catholic women who practice NFP.

I've seen the range of posts from Mother's Day is the best holiday ever to Mother's Day should be cancelled and everything in between and tangents off to the side. I even started to write my own post reflecting on Mother's Day, but it turned into more of a rant.

SO, I thought I'd do something different and share about Mother's Day and it's origins. You see, back in 4th grade when we were studying West Virginia History, we studied famous West Virginians and at our open house, we each had to prepare an index card of details about our famous West Virginian to share with parents. We also dressed up as the person assigned to us.

I was assigned Anna Jarvis, from Grafton, WV: Founder of, you guessed it, Mother's Day.

Oh, the irony.

Anyway, so here are the details:

In 1907, to honor her mother who had died two years prior, Anna Jarvis, held a memorial service and began a campaign to have "Mother's Day" recognized as a national holiday. She succeeded in 1914 and since that time the second Sunday of May each year is reserved as a day to honor mothers. Carnations have been used to honor mothers from that very first celebration in 1907 because it was Anna Jarvis' mother's favorite flower. It is customary that a woman wear a white carnation to honor a deceased mother or a pink carnation to honor a living mother. Despite this custom to wear a carnation, Anna Jarvis herself fought agains the sale of flowers and candy for Mother's Day. She did not want it to be taken up by commercialism. The International Shrine for Mother's Day is located at Andrews Methodist Episcopal Church in Grafton, WV, a mere 25 minute drive from my front door.

While this obviously doesn't offer us advice for how to celebrate or get through Mother's Day (or wherever on the spectrum in between the two you are), it should at least set aside the notion that Mother's Day was invented by Hallmark (though Hallmark has sure done it's best to claim and destroy what Anna Jarvis started).

We will be hosting a "Mother's Day Tea" with my mom, MIL, and SILs to celebrate the "mothers in our family" as my invitation said. By hosting, it guarantees I will get up, shower, and put make-up on. I can't promise I'll make it to Mass, I didn't last year and this year is so much worse. But I will try. Oh, and there will be wine. Lots of wine. (Especially since I do believe AF will be arriving just in time for me to put the appetizers in the oven.)

But at least I will have set the record straight.


  1. Hang in there this Sunday, you are not alone!

  2. I'm planning to have the flu tomorrow, so I don't have to deal with it all.


  3. Thanks for the origins lesson.
    Enjoy your brunch!

  4. Praying for you tomorrow! Happy Mother's day to you Rebecca! I hope I am not offending you in any way but I already see you as a mother in so many of the ways that count like love and sacrifice. Side note: if you try and go to a Latin Mass tomorrow they do not do the whole mother's day hoopla, that is what we do :) You can find one in your diocese by checking out a website called Una Voce, they usually have listings of Latin Masses across the country.

  5. Fascinating! Stupid hallmark and commercialism...they make everything worse. I admire you so much for hosting a tea! Keeping you in prayer tomorrow :)

  6. How interesting about the history. I hope your tea goes well tomorrow. Maybe for Mass you could pick one less well attended like Sat pm or early Sunday am? I wish you lived closer because I'd invite you to my parish. For the last two years, there is no blessing of mothers. The priest simply said "Happy Mother's Day" at the end of Mass, but that was the only mention of the day. Please don't skip Mass. Mortal sin isn't worth it. We need Jesus especially on the day we're hurting the most.

  7. Praying Rebecca. Praying, praying, praying.

    Please don't skip Mass. It took us quite awhile to get pregnant for the first two and while I don't know your pain, I do know that Jesus is the only one strong enough to help you feel better (even if you don't "feel" better).

    I'm struggling with the fact that my husband may never be open to more children, and it's a heaviness I carry daily. I will try to offer my sadness for your benefit. *hugs*

  8. I wish we did the wearing carnations thing and that's it. Everyone would have a carnation.
    I have alot of friends not looking forward to Mother's Day and it hurts my heart. A friend wrote the priests in our diocese a letter asking them to rethink the blessing and at least offer prayers for all those who are struggling with fertility, loss of a child and loss of a mother. I'm really hoping it was read and taken seriously.
    I'll be keeping you, especially in my prayers at Mass tomorrow. If I were you I'd be tempted to take Jesus in communion and slip out before the hoopla at announcements.

  9. I had no idea MD wasn't started by Hallmark. Well ... maybe a little bit of an idea. But it wasn't a proven fact. I liked the history behind the day. And the fact that it celebrates a "hidden" mother, as Anna's mother was deceased. You are a mother by desire, so a "hidden" mother as well.
    It just plain sucks regardless of any "title" you put to the day/event. I think your plan with the wine is something near and dear to my own heart. It dulls the ache.
    Many prayers coming your way. Thank you for always writing from your heart.

  10. I loved reading about the history of Mother's Day and like AIHPT, I think it is cool it was started by a woman who wanted to honor her deceased mother.
    Praying for you...as always...love you so much. And may Jesus in the Eucharist pour out His tender mercy and love in a very tangible way this weekend.

  11. Praying for you today, friend. I hope you feel at least some peace today and know that you are loved by so many.

  12. I hope your tea went (goes?) well. Half the guests for our brunch didn't make it, so we have a lot of leftovers. Hmmmm, about half a bottle of leftover champagne? :)

  13. Thanks for the history! I like the idea of the flowers too..
    Such a rough day but you were definitely in my prayers today, Rebecca, as well as all bloggers having to deal with mixed emotions. And Ha to JB! I would feel so weird wishing the flu on you but some days it certainly would be nice to just hide under a rock until its over!

  14. i second Kat. :)

    thanks for clarifying about mother's day, I had no idea!

    Hope your day was tolerable and you went to mass.

  15. As always... praying, praying, praying!

    And that's very interesting about the origin of Mother's Day! I never knew that!

    I wonder if it's a nation-wide thing to learn about your state history in 4th grade because that's the grade I learned Missouri state history. We had to pick a famous Missourian to write about and mine was Laura Ingalls Wilder!

  16. I'm late to comment, as I wasn't online yesterday, but I just wanted you to know that I prayed for you at Mass yesterday, and I hope you did get to go to a Latin Mass or some other Mass that wasn't doing all the Mother's Day stuff.

    My heart just aches for you, and I think of you often, offering up prayers for you all the time.

  17. This year, Mother's day was as weird as it could ever be for me. Besides my "mommy issues", I also have MIL issues and then, I had to put aside the hurt I felt about my oldest not really thinking anything of Mother's Day and kind of letting it fall by the wayside...but my younger children brought me joy, my husband bought me a card that made me cry and I continued to miss the piece of my heart that's already in Heaven. Just one strange, weird, wonderful, awful day.

  18. I'm thrilled that you shared this - I did not know the history behind Mother's Day, but I suspected it was not Hallmark. When I tweeted that I would rather be in a cave than deal with Mother's Day weekend this year, a friend tweeted back "Blame Hallmark." And I knew that was off. I'm already writing my blog's post on Mother's Day for 2014 because of you and this, and sharing the true background and intention of the day. Thanks!

    Also, I totally agree with Learning a Little Way that I would really dig bringing back the carnation thing - that it was more a way truly to give consideration to our own Mother's than to ... whatever. It's a fine line, but I feel like something in the current focus is... off.

    Thank you and hugs!