Why do we celebrate Mother’s Day? | NDR.de

Status: 08.05.2022 08:10 AM

It’s the most important day of the year for florists across the country, but the rest of the population disagrees about Mother’s Day.

by yasmine argin

Some are delighted with a bouquet of roses or other treats, about the opportunity to say “thank you” to Mom again. A loving springtime ritual like a picnic in the park with homemade strawberry cake. What is controversial about it?

Others are disturbed by traditions they see as outdated and outdated because they propagate a traditional image of the mother and are hopelessly marketed. And anyway, didn’t the Nazis invent Mother’s Day? Or from the flower industry? Where does Mother’s Day really come from?

Antiquity: The ancient Greeks worshiped the goddess of motherhood

In fact, the origins of this day go back to ancient times. Even the ancient Greeks paid homage to the goddess Rhea, mother of the main god Zeus, and thus a symbol of fertility and motherhood, on spring holidays. Similar traditions also existed in the Middle Ages. The British “Mother’s Day”, still celebrated in March every year, dates back to the 13th century.

1860s: The Feminist Movement Organizes Celebrations

Mother’s Day as we know it today, which falls on the second Sunday of May in most countries of the world, originated within the British and American feminist movement. Ann Jarvis of America has organized so-called “Mothers’ Friendship Days” since the 1860s to support the victims of the American Civil War. A few years later, women’s rights activist Julia Ward Howe called for a “Mother’s Day of Peace.”

My voice: Poll: Why is mom the best? (1 minute)

1908: The Anna Marie Jarvis Foundation celebrates a memorial prayer

The American Anna Marie Jarvis, who has imposed official recognition of Mother’s Day since 1907, is considered the official founder. On May 9, 1908, the third anniversary of the death of her mother almost of the same name, already mentioned above, she organized a memorial service and then distributed five hundred carnations to honor the deceased and living mothers. Thanks to their efforts, the idea quickly spread throughout the country: in 1914, then-President Thomas Woodrow Wilson made Mother’s Day a national holiday, and soon after that it spread to other countries.

1920s: commercial exploitation causes litigation

But the joy of this success was short-lived for Anna Marie Jarvis. The massive marketing of the day she founded was so against the spirit of the women’s rights activist that she went to court in the 1920s to rescind Mother’s Day and even ended up in prison for a short period for disrupting the celebration of Mother’s Day—a fun fact for Mother’s Day critics.

Jarvis’ resistance was futile. Only on Christmas do Americans spend more on gifts than they do on Mother’s Day. According to estimates by the National Retailers Association, the average Mother’s Day spending in the United States is currently $245 per person. In Germany, the numbers are noticeably lower, but the trend is rising here too.

1922: Florists begin Mother’s Day in Germany

Speaking of trade: the fact that Mother’s Day is ever so popular in Germany is actually thanks to the florists. In 1922, the Federation of German Flower Shop Owners introduced this day in Germany. With “Mother’s Honor” stickers in their storefronts, they initially established it as “Flower Wishing Day.” A year later, on May 13, 1923, Mother’s Day was officially declared in Germany – by Rudolf Knauer, head of the Federation of Florists.

1934: The Nazis used the sign for propaganda

Unfortunately, the thing about the Nazis and Mother’s Day is also true. The National Socialists did not invent it today, but they abused it extensively in their propaganda in the Third Reich. Declaring it a public holiday, they named it “Day of Remembrance and Honor of German Mothers” in 1934, thus emphasizing the task of women to “beget” the German people. Since 1938, women with many children have been honored with the “Honorary Cross of the German Mother” on Mother’s Day. The medal was awarded to several mothers of four children. Of child number four there was a mother’s cross in bronze, of six children in silver and eight or more children in gold. A dubious award, popularly derided even then as the “Order of the Rabbit”.

Nothing in common with assets today

There are good reasons feminists (and not only) can’t do much with Mother’s Day today. Today, Eid has nothing in common with its origins in the women’s rights movement. And this appreciation of what mothers do every day should not be limited to a single day on the calendar; it should not have been evident only since the Corona pandemic. But even if the best gift is more political and social recognition: If you’ve been thinking about saying “thank you” from time to time, of course, you can’t go wrong with choosing a bouquet of flowers for Mother’s Day.

This topic is in the program:

Culture NDR | Classic Boulevard | 08.05.2022 | 2:20 pm

NDR . logo

Leave a Comment