Mother’s Day – What You Didn’t Know

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Zimbabwean Mothers and their little munchkins – Mother’s Day

Mother’s Day is a holiday we celebrate in Zimbabwe every year to honor motherhood and traditionally involves presenting mothers with flowers, cards and other forms of gifts. Have you ever wondered how this holiday came to be? For all you know you could be celebrating a holiday with a dark past… Things that make you say “Hmmm…”. How about this twist… Should mothers to four legged friends/babies (dogs, cats etc) also celebrate Mother’s Day with their babies?

Did you know? Although, like most countries, we in Zimbabwe celebrate Mother’s Day on the second Sunday in May, not every country observes it on the same date (eyes wide-opened)… For example, in Mozambique they celebrate Mother’s Day on the first Sunday in May, in South Sudan they celebrate it on the first Sunday in July, and in Malawi they celebrate it on the second Monday of October, while in Norway they celebrate it on the second Sunday of February. Those disparities alone should make anyone curious on how this holiday came to be.

Research Credit:
Photos: Ayyaz Farah Ebrahim with Alayna and Aahil, Kutiwa Shasha, Charity Mbiwa Mutasa with daughter Myla- Rose Mutasa, Precious Mudenge with daughters Pamela and Ayanda, Tanya Simleit with Neo and Tasha

The modern holiday of Mother’s Day was first celebrated in 1908, when Anna Jarvis held a memorial for her mother in Grafton, West Virginia. Her campaign to make “Mother’s Day” a recognized holiday in the United States began in 1905, the year her mother, Ann Reeves

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Mother’s Day Specials at Cleopatra Spa
Jarvis, died. Ann Jarvis had been a peace activist who cared for wounded soldiers on both sides of the American Civil War, and created Mother’s Day Work Clubs to address public health issues by teaching mothers how to care for their children. Anna Jarvis wanted to honor her mother by continuing the work she started and to set aside a day to honor all mothers.

In 1908, the US Congress rejected a proposal to make Mother’s Day an official holiday, joking that they would also have to proclaim a “Mother-in-law’s Day” . The US State of West Virginia, Jarvis’ home state, was one of the first to recognize Mother’s Day as a public holiday in 1910. In 1914, President Woodrow Wilson signed a measure designating Mother’s Day, held on the second Sunday in May, as a US national holiday to honor mothers.

In 1912 Anna Jarvis trademarked the phrases “Second Sunday in May” and “Mother’s Day”, and created the Mother’s Day International Association. She specifically noted that “Mother’s” should “be a singular possessive, for each family to honor its own mother, not a plural possessive commemorating all mothers in the world.” This is also the spelling used by U.S. President Woodrow Wilson in his 1914 presidential proclamation, by the U.S. Congress in relevant bills, and by various U.S. presidents in their proclamations concerning Mother’s Day.

Although Jarvis was successful in founding Mother’s Day, she became resentful of the commercialization of the holiday.

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Mom Precious Mudenge with daughters Pamela and Ayanda – Bulawayo, Zimbabwe
By the early 1920s, Hallmark Cards and other companies had started selling Mother’s Day cards. Jarvis believed that the companies had misinterpreted and exploited the idea of Mother’s Day, and that the emphasis of the holiday was on sentiment, not profit – much like, as some would argue, has happened to Christmas. As a result, she organized boycotts of Mother’s Day, and threatened to issue lawsuits against the companies involved. Jarvis argued that people should appreciate and honor their mothers through handwritten letters expressing their love and gratitude, instead of buying gifts and pre-made cards. By the mid 1920s, carnations had become associated with Mother’s Day, and the selling of carnations by the American War Mothers to raise money angered Jarvis, who was arrested for disturbing the peace.

In other parts of the world like the United Kingdom, for example, this celebration fell on the fourth Sunday in Lent and was originally seen as a time when the faithful would return to their “mother church” – the main church in the vicinity of their home – for a special service.

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“The best things in life are the souls we love, the places we’ve been and the memories we’ve shared along the way xx” – Tanya Simleit

Over time the Mothering Sunday tradition shifted into a more secular holiday, and children would present their mothers with flowers and other tokens of appreciation. This custom eventually faded in popularity before merging with the American Mother’s Day in the 1930s and 1940s.

Did you know? More phone calls are made on Mother’s Day than any other day of the year. These holiday chats with Mom often cause phone traffic to spike by as much as 37 percent.

Wishing you all the best Mother’s Day ever. I did not truly appreciated the gift of motherhood until I became a mom… It’s the biggest responsibility in the world yet also best feeling in the world. Whether you are a biological mom, a step mom, a community mom, mom to your dog/cat the responsibility and the feeling are amazingly the same.  You could be a mom to someone and not even realize your motherhood role in their life.

  • How does your family traditionally celebrate Mother’s Day?
  • Does the knowledge in this article affect your perception of Mother’s Day and will that affect whether or not you celebrate the holiday or how you celebrate it?
  • What’s the best thing you have ever done for your mom on Mother’s Day?


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