Mother’s Day

5th March 2021

Depending where you are in the world, Mother’s Day may be just a few days away or still a few months hence. For those of us who have ever lived in different countries or have a mother residing overseas, you may have wondered why the date of Mother’s Day is not consistent across the world?

Vintage Mother’s Day Postcard (source)

The answer to that question stems from the fact that what we call ‘Mother’s Day’ is in fact not the same celebration the world over. 

For example, in the USA and here in Australia, Mother’s Day falls on the second Sunday in May. In the UK, it’s called ‘Mothering Sunday’ and it falls on the 4th Sunday in Lent, which means the actual date changes each year.

Whitman’s Chocolates advert from 1946 (source)

Although Mothering Sunday is commonly called Mother’s Day, and most people generally visit their mother, buy her gifts or have some kind of celebration on the day, the original intention of Mothering Sunday was to encourage people to visit their local ‘mother church’ or the church in which they were baptised. 

Honouring one’s actual mother was of secondary importance. The day of observance originated in the Middle Ages, but its meaning has changed significantly since and today has become more in line with the international notion of a day honouring motherhood.

So where did this maternal centric version of Mother’s Day originate? It was in fact an idea created by an American woman, Anna Jarvis, in the early 20th Century.

While Anna never married or had children, she tirelessly campaigned for a day to honour women at a time when, she felt, most of the national holidays celebrated men and their achievements.

The holiday soon became popular and was codified as a national day of celebration in 1914.

However, it didn’t take long before the spirit of the day was overtaken by commercial interests as card makers, florists and confectioners realised they could profit from Mother’s Day.

L- Portrait of Anna Jarvis | R – Norman Rockwell’s 1951 Mother’s Day Poster (source)

While on one hand Anna was thrilled to have achieved her goal, she was disheartened by the overt commerciality it was attracting and would go on to spend much of her life staunchly defending its original intent.

So how, you may ask, does all this relate to needlework?

Blue Ribbon by Carolyn Pearce from Inspirations Issue #100

Well after learning about its history, we felt that needlework can have an important role in helping celebrate Mother’s Day.

Anna Jarvis wanted a day of celebration where mothers and their children came together to share time and express their love.

Something like a simple handmade gift, worked with love and care, accompanied by a hug and a cup of tea to say ‘I love you’ is more in keeping with Anna’s original vision for a day honouring our Mums, rather than an extravagant spending spree on commercial, mass produced goods.

Summer Days by Jo Butcher from Inspirations Issue #101

Whether you celebrate Mother’s Day in March, May or any other time of the year, by employing your needlework skills in a carefully worked gift, you’ll be going a long way towards recapturing what the day was initially meant to be.

All of us know how much love and care goes into a handmade item. Giving one is joyous; receiving one is sublime.

As a Mum it feels so good to be given a bespoke gift created by our child specifically with us in mind, it is both humbling and celebratory all at once.

Flower Pots by Ana Mallah from A Passion for Needlework | Factoria VII

Needlework is the perfect parcelling of love, fully intact, into a unique and precious gift. We’d like to think that Anna Jarvis would most definitely approve and perhaps on occasion, may even have enjoyed the art of needlework herself.

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