Mother’s Day and Flowers: A History
Updated: May 7
Mother’s Day is a busy day for florists. There are many reasons why people choose to send flowers to the mothers in their lives – a show of appreciation and love, for one – but historically, there are reasons flowers are closely linked to this day as well.
Throughout several cultural traditions, motherhood has been linked with flowers, springtime, and plants, because all of them represent life and fertility. Sending flowers can be a way to literally thank mothers for the life they have given.
Ironically, the founder of Mother’s Day did not have any children of her own. But Anna Jarvis wanted to honour the contributions of mothers, and used carnations as a way to do that. When her mother died on the second Sunday in May of 1905, Anna sent 500 white carnations, her mother’s favourite, to the church to celebrate her mother’s love and her own sorrow of her passing. Two years later, on the second Sunday of the month, Anna decided to honour not just her mother, but all mothers. Everyone in attendance received a white carnation. This is largely acknowledged as the first Mother’s Day event.
Subsequently, Anna campaigned to make the day an official holiday, and the idea caught on. Some churches would hold Mother’s Day ceremonies where attendees would wear red carnations if their mother was still living, and white if she was not. The public loved the story so much that in 1914, the US made Mother’s Day an official holiday. And, it continues to be celebrated on the second Sunday of the month.
Flowers have been part of honouring mothers for a very long time. Why break with tradition? Did you get the mothers in your life flowers for Mother’s Day? It’s this Sunday, so you better hurry!