Mother’s day is celebrated in different ways and on different days worldwide, but the reason for the holiday is universal; honoring all of the hard work, sleepless nights, sacrifices and love that comes with motherhood. There are some historical ties to religious rites honoring goddesses or mother church, but the current incarnation is celebrated secularly with children presenting their mothers with gifts. The creation of our modern American Mother’s Day is rooted with several courageous, outspoken women who were ahead of their time with ideas about women’s and civil rights and peace. During pre-Civil war years Ann Reeves Jarvis organized several events and clubs where mothers learned about child care and also promoted reconciliation between former Union and Confederate soldiers. Also credited with the creation of mother’s day is Julia Ward Howe, an abolitionist and suffragette, who in 1870 wrote the “Mother’s Day Proclamation” calling mothers to action, unifying for world peace. She campaigned for a “Mother’s Peace Day” to be celebrated every June 2nd. Other pioneers for the holiday include Juliet Calhoun Blakely, who galvanized her local community in Michigan in observance, as well as, Mary Towles Sasseen who picked up the charge in the late 19th and early 20th centuries to solidify the day’s holiday status. Mother’s day was officially added to the national calendar in 1914 and is celebrated on the second Sunday in May.
The efforts of Anna Jarvis, following the death of her mother, Ann Reeves Jarvis, resulted in the confirmation of the official mother’s day holiday. While she had initially worked with the floral industry to help raise awareness of the new holiday, she soon became disillusioned at the rise of commercialization, it didn’t take long before the florists, card companies, confectioners and other industries capitalized on its acclaim. It can be assumed that the other feminist architects would have shared her dismay at profiteering on the ideals they worked so hard to promote; why is big business making so much money on a holiday that is supposed to stand for peace and the sacrifices of motherhood?
Mothers surely deserve recognition and day to honor them, but how about a gift that keeps giving year after year, enhances the environment, represents the true meaning of the holiday without lining the pockets of corporate America? For a spin on the traditional gift of flowers, give mom a flowering shrub or tree. With the advice of your arborist and the help of your local nursery, you can spend the day choosing the best plant for her yard, finding the ideal location for it and installing it properly. This gift will be a constant reminder of love, peace and appreciation. Start a new Mother’s Day tradition where you tend to the garden and landscape together and add a new tree or shrub to the environment.