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Cape Coral Living Magazine

Get Ready for Mother's & Father's Day

Apr 21, 2020 05:39PM ● By Patricia Letakis

The history of honoring mom and dad with flowers, ties and lots of love

Every May (this year May 10) and June (this year June 21), we dedicate days to honoring motherhood and fatherhood. We celebrate our parents, grandparents and even those who are not blood relatives, but rather role models who may have treated us like a son or daughter in some special way.

Have you ever wondered how the tradition began?


Let’s start with Mother’s Day. It can be traced back in history to the ancient Greeks (700-480 B.C.), who held festivals in honor of Cybele, the Anatolian mother goddess, and Rhea, the great mother of the gods in mythology. The Romans also held festivals to honor Cybele.   

Mothering Sunday is another practice that focused on the “mother” concept. During the 16th century, Christians of the Roman Catholic Church and Church of England in the United Kingdom and Ireland would visit their “mother” church. It could be their local parish church, the church where they were baptized, or a cathedral (symbolically the “mother” of all the parish churches). Over time, this practice evolved into a more secular holiday for recognizing mothers through the giving of gifts—especially flowers.

However, Mother’s Day in the United States had its earliest beginnings with Ann Reeves Jarvis of West Virginia, who in the years before the Civil War started Mothers’ Day Work Clubs to teach women children care. After the war, in 1868, she organized Mothers’ Friendship Day, gathering mothers and former Union and Confederate soldiers to promote reconciliation. Other Mother’s Day pioneers followed, organizing community events and promoting the concept of recognizing mothers for all they do.

In 1908, Jarvis’ daughter, Anna Jarvis, organized the first official Mother’s Day. She saw it as a way to honor mothers for the sacrifices they made for their children. With the financial backing of John Wanamaker, a Philadelphia department store owner, the first official Mother’s Day celebration took place in May. By 1912 several states had adopted Mother’s Day as an annual holiday, and in 1914 President Woodrow Wilson signed a measure officially establishing the second Sunday in May as Mother’s Day.


Although gifts are always appreciated, rather than ordering jewelry or perfume online, dads together with their children can show their creative side. Handmade cards can be crafty versions with glitter and glue or simply construction paper with an “I love you” verse composed by the children.

Baking a cake or mom’s favorite cookies is another interactive way for the family to show their love. However, at the top of most moms’ lists is a day off from tasks such as cooking and cleaning. Preparing a meal (and cleaning up after) or doing some of the everyday must-do chores for mom could be the ultimate “queen for the day” gift.


When it comes to Father’s Day, the honoring of fatherhood can be traced back to Saint Joseph. Since the Middle Ages, Catholics in Europe celebrated his feast day on March 19, and the church’s tradition has continued to this day.

However, the Father’s Day in more modern times was the project of Sonora Smart Dodd, who along with five other children was raised by widower and Civil War veteran William Jackson Smart. In 1909 while attending one of the first Mother’s Day services at her church in Spokane, Washington, Sonora thought of her father. The following year she brought a petition before the Spokane Ministerial Alliance to recognize fathers with a designated day. On June 19, the third Sunday of the month, church sermons across Spokane honored living and deceased fathers. That was the impetus for Sonora’s crusade to make Father’s Day a national holiday.


It wasn’t until 1972, six years before Sonora’s death at the age of 96, that a congressional resolution declaring the third Sunday in June to be Father’s Day was signed by President Richard Nixon.


Spending time together with your dad is one of the best—and most memorable—ways to spend Father’s Day. If he likes to fish, go fishing. If he enjoys a game of basketball, hit the courts at your local park. If he’s into hiking, choose a trail that he may not have trekked. Even a day at the beach doing nothing but enjoying each other’s company can help nurture the father/son and father/daughter bond. And if you can’t come up with anything better, there’s always the traditional gift of a tie, which might end up hanging in his closet, but reminding him of you every time he sees it.


Patricia Letakis is the managing editor for TOTI Media.