Whilst in the UK and Ireland, Mothering Sunday celebrations take place on the fourth Sunday of Lent, it’s worth remembering that in other parts of the world the date is fixed. For example, in America, New Zealand and Australia it always falls on the second Sunday of May (it’s also a national holiday in USA), with this year’s International Mother’s Day, as it’s known, falling on Sunday 13th May.
One of the earliest recorded calls to celebrate Mother’s Day is documented as taking place in the United States in 1870. The “Mother’s Day Proclamation” by Julia Ward Howe, was a pacifist reaction to the carnage of the American Civil War and the Franco-Prussian War. The Proclamation was tied to Howe’s feminist belief that women had a responsibility to shape their societies at the political level.
Then, in 1912, to mark the passing of her mother two years earlier, Anna Jarvis trademarked the phrases “second Sunday in May” and “Mother’s Day”, and created the Mother’s Day International Association, with a ‘holiday’ day created in the US to remember mums everywhere.
As other countries and cultures adopted the US holiday, the date was changed to fit already existing celebrations honouring motherhood, like Mothering Sunday in the UK or the Orthodox celebration of Jesus in the temple in Greece. In some countries it was changed to dates that were significant to the majority religion, like the Virgin Mary day in Catholic countries, or the birthday of the daughter of the Prophet Muhammad in Islamic countries. Other countries changed it to historical dates, like Bolivia using the date of a certain battle where women participated. However, for the majority of nations around the world, the second Sunday of May became known as International Mother’s Day – a celebration that has stuck to this day.
Over the past century, Mother’s Day has grown larger and larger, as more and more gifts became showered on mums. Ask any florist, pretty much anywhere in the world what their busiest occasions are and Mother’s Day will surely be listed first or second. But why has flower delivery become such a big deal at Mother’s Day? Anna Jarvis herself raised the selfish issue of presenting chocolates, when all you will do is eat them yourself, whilst back in the days before reliable postal services and overnight couriers, flower delivery could be arranged through the then modern technology of the telegram. Indeed, floristry was, and still is in many cases, at the forefront of technology.
A customer working away from home in say Chicago could, for example, send a delivery of flowers to their mum in San Diego the next day. The florist in Chicago would take the order and the money, before sending a telegram to the delivering florist in San Diego, who would then deliver the flowers, complete with a personalised card message, with the money being sorted out later. And this in the day when posting an item could take days or even weeks!
Whilst technology has moved on, with online ordering now the norm, the principle of sending flowers remains the same. Only now, the transmission of the order is faster and can go further. For example, it’s possible to place an order in London in the morning and have a delivery made in New York the same day. Some companies – Direct2Florist is one – even allow you to see the actual work carried out by the florist in New York, after selecting your chosen florist based on address and even what the shop looks like!
Whilst technology clearly helped flowers become a major part of the demonstration of love towards mums on International Mother’s Day, there’s one more overriding factor that we can’t ignore – mums love flowers. Couple that with the convenience of sending flowers and it’s easy to see why florists are busy people on the second Sunday of every May.
For a list of countries celebrating International Mother’s Day this month, click here.