Mother’s Day flowers and breakfast in bed: How did we get here? (Photo: Getty Images)
This Sunday is Mother’s Day,
You’ll be in good company, according to the National Retail Federation, which found that, this year, shoppers plan to spend an average of $220.48 on the day — $16 more than they planned to spend last year and the highest in the survey’s 18-year history — and that categories like jewelry and electronics are seeing record spending levels this year. Greeting cards will be purchased by 72 percent of people and flowers by 68 percent, while 49 percent will spend on special outings — likely restaurant meals, as reservations for the day, according to an OpenTable survey, are up 64 percent over pre-pandemic levels of 2019.
Still, if you’re interested in staying truer to the original intent of the holiday — which is not as clear as some would imagine, does not involve spending money on anything and comes with an at-times-dark history, full of bizarre twists and turns — it might be time for a little history lesson.
While a woman named Anna Jarvis is widely credited as being the mother of Mother’s Day, “she was not the first to come up with the idea,” Katharine Antolini, an assistant professor of history and gender studies at West Virginia Wesleyan College and author of Memorializing Motherhood: Anna Jarvis and the Struggle for the Control of Mother’s Day, tells Yahoo Life. She says that, through her research on the subject, “I’ve identified at least five other people who have been tied to claiming the idea.”
One was Julia Howe Ward, the lyricist of “The Battle Hymn of the Republic” and a post-Civil War peace activist,