How Seniors Can Celebrate Mother's Day

Mother's Day is a popular holiday observed worldwide that honours and celebrates mothers. Find out the history of Mother's Day, how seniors can celebrate, and gift ideas for a mother in your life.

How Seniors Can Celebrate Mother's Day

Mother’s Day is a popular holiday that honours and celebrates mothers. In Canada, it always falls on the second Sunday of May, so Mother’s Day 2022 is on Sunday, May 8. Read on to find out the history of Mother’s Day, how seniors can celebrate, a few gift ideas for moms in your life, and how perspectives on Mother’s Day may change over time for  seniors.

The history of Mother's Day

Mother’s Day has its origins in several different cultures around the world. For example, the ancient Greeks and Romans honoured their mother goddesses, Rhea and Cybele, by holding festivals and celebrations.

The holiday also has roots in the early Christian holiday Mothering Sunday. Since medieval times, this occasion has been celebrated on the first Sunday of Lent in the UK. On Mothering Sunday, people would traditionally visit their “mother church,” the church where they were baptised near their childhood home.

Eventually, Mothering Sunday became less associated with the church. Children presented their mothers with gifts like flowers and cards, merging the occasion with the similar American holiday, Mother’s Day.

This holiday came about when several Americans, including Juliet Calhoun Blakely, Mary Towles Sasseen, and Frank Hering, began to organize local “Mother’s Day” celebrations in the 19th century.

In West Virginia, Ann Reeves Jarvis organized “Mother’s Day Work Clubs” to teach new moms how to care for their children. After the American Civil War, she also organized a “Mother’s Friendship Day” during which mothers would gather with veterans of the Union and Confederate armies to promote friendship, peace, and reconciliation.

Another activist, Julia Ward Howe, was also interested in using moms to promote world peace. In the early 1870s, she wrote a “Mother’s Day Proclamation” and campaigned for a “Mother’s Peace Day.”

The official holiday, as we know it today, was started in 1908 by Anna Jarvis, the daughter of Ann Reeves Jarvis. After her mother’s death, she created the holiday to honour mothers’ sacrifices. It quickly gained popularity, becoming an American national holiday in 1914.

However, the holiday was quickly commercialized against Jarvis’ wishes. She spent the rest of her life trying to remove it from the calendar.

How is Mother's Day celebrated around the world?

mothers day celebration

Mother’s Day is celebrated in countless different ways around the globe. For example, 19 countries celebrate the holiday on March 8, the same day as International Women’s Day.

In Ethiopia, Mother’s Day is celebrated in the fall with a festival called “Antrosht.” The festival occurs over three days at the end of the rainy season, honouring mothers with singing, dancing, and feasting.

In Mexico, an unofficial holiday called “Día de las Madres” is marked on May 10. It is often celebrated by gathering and eating together. The celebration traditionally begins by singing the famous song “Las Mañanitas.”

In Indonesia, the holiday is celebrated on December 22 by presenting gifts to mothers and holding parties and competitions. People worldwide also commemorate the occasion by giving flowers to their moms. In Japan, Mother’s Day flowers are typically red carnations.

How can seniors celebrate Mother's Day?

celebrating mother's day as a senior

Here are some ways for seniors to celebrate Mother’s day and help the moms in their lives feel special.

Holding a dinner can be a great way to honour a mother in your life. Seniors can gather friends and loved ones of their mothers and cook her favourite dish or go out to eat at her favourite restaurant. You could also do a brunch or have a picnic or potluck lunch with friends and family.

Another great way to celebrate your mother is to take her to visit places that hold special memories for her. For example, the spot she met her lifelong partner or a favourite spot from her childhood. You could also take her to places you think she’d enjoy, making new special memories.

If you or your mother is a senior who has given up driving, you could even hop on a bus tour that tours places she holds close to her heart.

Mother’s Day is all about honouring mothers and their sacrifices. Talking to seniors like your mother or one you know to learn more about their life and past can be a great way to do this. “Interview” her about her life and the memories she holds dear. This might even bring you closer by providing an opportunity to bond!

Gifts – especially personal and thoughtful ones – are another great way to celebrate a mother in your life. Take your time to think about what she values and cares about. Try as best as you can to make a gift to your mother meaningful. It can be personalized, like a photo album or recipe book, or even just a gift that suits her interests, like a unique perfume, bread oven, or gardening set. You could even arrange a trip back to her home town or country if you can. After all, the best gifts come from the heart.

How Mother’s Day can still be special for seniors going through hard times

elderly woman hugging her grandson

Mother’s Day can be a lot different as a senior. As a child, you may have just made a simple card or gift for your mom. As a younger adult, you may have shifted to sending her a store-bought present and calling her on the phone. As a senior, you may have to care for your elderly mother or have lost your mother. These circumstances may cause you to struggle with Mother’s Day when it comes around each year.

If you are a senior caring for your mother in her 80s or 90s, you may face a strange realization each Mother’s Day. The tables have now turned, with you having to take care of her as she did you as a child. Taking care of your elderly parents can be a big sacrifice, just like your parents’ sacrifices to raise you.

In an article for the online magazine Psychology Today, psychologist Susan Gelb recommends several strategies to overcome the stress and difficulty of caring for an elderly parent. These include letting out your feelings and reaching out to someone who can relate for support. 

She also recommends a technique called “positive submission,” which involves accepting that there are some things that you can change and some things that you can’t. Positive submission isn’t giving up, but it helps you be less hard on yourself as a caregiver.

When Mother’s Day comes around, appreciate your mother and all she has done for you, but also take a moment to give yourself a pat on the back for your hard work. Taking care of a parent and watching them age isn’t easy, and it’s likely that your mother appreciates you just as much as you do her.

On the other hand, being motherless when Mother’s Day rolls around can be even harder. Many seniors have lost their moms years or decades ago and now have to face a holiday that might make the wound hurt all over again.

Seniors who have lost their mothers can still have a Mother’s Day filled with love by honouring their mothers’ memories. You might want to look at old photographs and reminisce on good memories of your mother with others who knew her. If you have another family member who is a mother, celebrate the holiday with her and remember your mother together.

You could also tell your children or grandchildren stories about your mother so they can remember her with you. You might even choose to buy a bouquet of her favourite flowers for your kitchen table.

In an article for the Jed Foundation, psychologist Alana Kingsley emphasizes the importance of being gentler with yourself for those grieving on Mother’s Day. Many seniors might be harder on themselves because they don’t feel they are doing enough or grieving in the way they think is best. Still, it’s important to recognize that you’re trying very hard and that nobody navigates grief perfectly.

All of the suggestions mentioned above are just that – suggestions, and you can do some, all, or none of them. A day like Mother’s Day can be tough when grieving your mother, and you might just need to give yourself a break from the internal criticism if it comes up.

How becoming a grandmother can change Mother’s Day

grandmother and granddaughter embrace

If you are a mother or grandmother yourself, the holiday might look different than it did as a child – but it can be even sweeter with multiple generations celebrating with you. 

On the other hand, you may also find being a grandmother harder to handle than any other phase of your life.

Being a grandmother, you may feel the focus slipping away from you on Mother’s Day and onto your daughter or daughter-in-law. However, you still deserve to be recognized – grandmas have an essential role in the lives of their children and grandchildren, which is not to be overlooked.

The most apparent reason grandmothers are recognized on Mother’s Day is that your grandchildren would not even be here without you. Grandmothers also provide insight and wisdom to their children and grandchildren due to all their life experience.

Often, grandmas also play a significant role in taking care of grandchildren, being named the primary babysitter for when Mom and Dad are busy. Some grandmothers even raise their grandchildren if their child cannot for some reason, which is no easy feat! Grandmas are also important adult figures in a child’s life – after all, sometimes children just need advice from someone who isn’t their parent.

Therefore, it is evident that grandmas deserve to be celebrated  – on Mother’s Day and every day. However, some grandmothers may feel that the focus should be on younger mothers. That isn’t wrong! You should celebrate Mother’s Day whichever way you think suitable. If you don’t feel it is right for you to be celebrated on Mother’s Day as a grandmother, there’s always Grandparent’s Day (Sunday, September 11, 2022)!

elderly woman and sleeping child

Many grandmas hold the view that grandchildren are the greatest gift in the world, and having multiple generations of your descendants around can indeed multiply the joy of Mother’s Day and life in general! Grandchildren bring the opportunity for more new memories, more fun, and even more love to go around. 

Grandmother Edie Weinstein even said in an article for that grandparenthood has made her appreciate things like family traditions and history. 

She has become the source of old family stories and passes on traditions that her own grandparents passed on to her. She also says that being a grandmother keeps her life interesting, as she learns new things each time  spend time with her grandchildren.

On the other hand, she also acknowledged that some grandmothers may struggle with being a grandmother and their role in the lives of their children and grandchildren. Some grandmas may feel lonely when their children and grandchildren live far away from them, and some may feel the opposite – as if they do too much of the work that parents should do.

Some grandmothers may also find their roles difficult when they are constantly in conflict with their children about how to parent. In an article for Psychology Today, psychotherapist Roberta Satow says that “respect and communication are the two main ingredients for a good relationship between grandparents and their adult children.”

Mother’s Day is an excellent time for seniors to work on this relationship – getting together with your children and grandchildren and working on mutual respect and communication may just make your role as grandmother a little bit easier.

A multi-generational Mother’s Day celebration can be fun, too – spending the day with your growing family can make the occasion even sweeter. You can bond with your grandchildren by telling them stories from your youth and starting new traditions. Making new memories with your family can make you feel just as special and loved as you made your own mother feel on Mother’s Day decades ago.