Why do we give gifts on Mother’s Day?

Why do we give gifts on Mother’s Day?

Giving gifts to your mum isn’t a modern invention. Throughout recorded history, children have given their parents gifts of handmade crafts, favourite foods, clothing, jewellery, and more. Ancient societies even had festivals honouring mums and celebrating the concept of motherhood. Early Christians in Europe began the practice of celebrating “Mothering Sunday.” On a Sunday in the middle of Lent, people would visit their “mother” church in their home town. The day became a popular time for family reunions, since children who’d moved away for work would return to the town or village where their family lived. The day became a time to enjoy special foods and bring family members gifts from far away.

In the early 20th century, Mothering Sunday fell out of fashion. In the United Kingdom, a vicar’s daughter named Constance Penswick-Smith worked to revive the fading tradition. In America, an activist named Anna Jarvis campaigned for years to create a holiday honouring all American mothers. The two took inspiration from each other, and by the early 1910s, Mother’s Day was a growing tradition in both the United Kingdom and America. US President Woodrow Wilson even made the day an official holiday! In the United Kingdom, Mother’s Day falls in March due to its association with Lent. In the United States, it falls in May to honour Anna Jarvis’s mother, who died on May 9, 1905.

Once the tradition was re-established, companies began to create special gifts just for mothers. Since adult children often lived further away from their families and couldn’t return home easily, greeting cards became a popular way to send mum love from a distance. Early cards were formal and beautiful works of art, with hand-applied colours. As the decades passed, Mother’s Day cards became less formal, and a wider range of options were created. While cards in the 1930s through 50s often showed mums cooking and cleaning, later cards had mums working in offices, driving their kids to school, and having their own daring adventures.

Flowers and chocolate became popular gifts in this new Mother’s Day tradition, replacing the rich cakes that were traditionally served on Mothering Sunday. Ironically, one of the creators of this modern Mother’s Day holiday hated the concept of giving mums chocolate for the holiday. Anna Jarvis scolded greedy children who were really buying gifts for themselves, saying, "You take a box to Mother and then eat most of it yourself. A pretty sentiment!" She hated the tradition of printed cards as well, since she believed mothers deserved personalized gifts and letters from their families, not generic greeting cards.

In the spirit of Mother’s Day, try giving Mum something more special than a printed card or a box of chocolates! At Penwizard, we believe that personalized gifts make the best presents. Our customisable Mother’s Day books put mum at the centre of the story, with text and illustrations that can be changed for a very special mum. Draw your own gift card, and you’ll be participating in this centuries-old tradition when you give mum her present!