Occasions for greeting cards
The idea of honoring all mothers of the world on one special day was born in the middle of the 19th century in England. This wasn't a new idea as the following report that appeared in 1644 would indicate: "Every mid-Lent Sunday is a great day at Worcester, when all the children and god-children meet at the head of the family and have a feast. They call it Mothering-day."
The above-mentioned Sunday, or Lent, was understood, also within the Church, as a jolly day, a day on which the children living out of town would visit their parents (so-called "go a-mothering") and bring presents for their mothers (the Simnel or the Mothering Cake).
The Lent or the Sunday in Lent was generally celebrated in the region of Thuringia as a visiting day associated with generous hospitality for one's relatives. Similar traditions were also known from the Champagne and Walloon regions.
In 1872, then-influential author Julia W. Howe suggested that American mothers deserved an official holiday. It was not until a quarter of a century later, though, that the official Mother's Day was introduced in the US. Anna Jarvis from Philadelphia, seized the opportunity and on May 2, 1907, the second anniversary of her mother's death, started a publicity campaign for an official mother's day, a request which was granted by the President Woodrow Wilson on May 8, 1914, for every second Sunday in May. Besides the custom of wearing a colorful carnation in honor of living mothers or a white one in remembrance of the diseased ones, from that time onward, sending and delivering greeting cards on Mother's Day also became prevalent. Today's market does not only offer cards suitable for biological mothers but also for "step-mothers", or "just-like-a-mother".
Following World War I, the custom penetrated the European mainland; first, in Austria and Scandinavia and then for the first time in Germany in 1922/1923. Since 1933, Mother's Day in Germany is celebrated on the second Sunday in May. In countries under the Communist rule Mother's Day and International Women's Day were celebrated together on March 8th.
Text: Günter Garbrecht 2001, amended 2010
Translation: Marcel Valtr, 2011