By Tim Leeds
May is a time of spring, a time of renewal, of growth, of sunlight and of Mother's Day.
On May 9, 1914, President Woodrow Wilson signed a proclamation declaring the second Sunday in May Mother's Day in the United States. The Mother's Day falls on Sunday, May 13, this year a day to honor mothers, give them some rest, give them some cards and gifts.
The week of Mother's Day is usually a busy week for businesses in Havre, with people shopping for cards, flowers, and gifts, and taking mom out for a special meal. Some brave souls even buy ingredients and make special meals of their own.
Owners of and workers in greenhouses in Havre say it's a busy week for them, possibly the busiest time of their season. There are many families out and about, from husbands to grown children to fathers with their younger kids, finding something green and growing for mother.
Dave Milam, owner and operator of Dave's Downtown Greenhouse, said Mother's Day is usually one of his busier times.
"And it's pretty much the kickoff of the growing season," he said.
Milam said business was a little slower getting started this year, probably because of the cold winds, but it's picked up this week. He said the week will probably just get busier as it goes on.
"A lot of that (Mother's Day shopping) is last minute," he said.
He said he'll see a lot of gift-buying on Saturday and even Sunday.
Bev Ruhkamp, who owns and operates North Valley Greenhouse with her husband, Jean, said they only keep the greenhouse open in May. She said Mother's Day is definitely the busiest time for their business.
"We sell lots of baskets; hanging baskets, pots and things," she said, "sometimes gift certificates."
Ruhkamp said they get their merchandise out of Roundup, and although some items have been difficult to get because cloud cover slowed the growing season, they were still able to get a good selection, including some items fairly new to them. She said this week, just before Mother's Day, business is starting to move pretty well.
Virginia McCracken, who works at the Hi-Line Greenhouse for Patty Simons out of Turner, said they have a lot of customers buying for Mother's Day. She said they see a lot of husbands, a lot of kids, and some mothers buying for daughters during the Mother's Day season.
McCracken said they sell a lot of more "gifty" items at this time planters, stepping stones, hanging baskets, and some locally-made items. She said they have some birdhouses, locally-made wooden and tin houses and ceramic houses that they ship in, and locally-made wooden planters. She said some planters made here out of weathered wood have been very hot items this year.
The tradition of honoring mothers makes a busy time in Havre, for businesses and families. Officially honoring mother on a special day is less than 100 years old in the United States, but evidence shows the tradition goes back to some of the earliest civilizations.
The Phrygians, who moved into the area currently occupied by Turkey at about 1200 BC, honored Cybele, the mother of the gods in their religion, with a yearly festival. The ancient Greeks and Romans also had special celebrations honoring the mothers of their gods.
A more earthly tradition began in England somewhere between 1400-1600 AD. Many people were forced to move from their families to work at that time, and a tradition was started to have the fourth Sunday in Lent be "Mothering Sunday," where they were given time to return home and honor their mothers.
There are many dates and traditions to honor mothers around the world. Many other countries celebrate motherhood on the second Sunday in May, as the United States does, but not all celebrations occur in the spring.
Hindus in India celebrate the 10-day Durga Purja in October. Spain and Portugal honor the Virgin Mary and children honor their own mothers on Dec. 8. France celebrates mothers in spring, on the last Sunday in May, with a tradition of holding a large family dinner and serving the mother a cake afterwards. In Sweden, the Swedish Red Cross has a fund-raiser, which is used to pay for vacations for mothers with large families on the last Sunday in May.
The United States officially recognized Mother's Day with Wilson's 1914 proclamation, but work had been under way for some time to start an official event before that.
Most Old World traditions of annually honoring mother seem to have been lost during the colonization of what would become the United States and during the nation's infancy. One of the first recorded suggestions for an official mother's day in the country was in 1872, when the lyricist of "The Battle Hymn of the Republic," Julia Ward Howe, suggested a day dedicated to peace to honor mothers. Her suggestion did not encompass the nation, but is credited with starting an annual tradition in Boston.
The founder of the movement resulting in Mother's Day in the United States was Ana Jarvis. Jarvis was born in Grafton, W. Va., in 1864, and she often heard her own mother say she wished there was a day for mothers, which might end the fighting and hatred still prevailing after the Civil War.
On May 12, 1907, the second anniversary of her mother's death, Jarvis persuaded a minister in her hometown of Grafton, W. Va., to hold an official Mother's Day celebration. She started a campaign to make it a national tradition, and within a few years many states were celebrating the day, culminating in Wilson's proclamation making Mother's Day an official U.S. celebration.
That tradition continues to the present, where next Sunday is the official day to be extra special and loving to mom, to give her a day off and give her special honor and recognition.
Happy Mother's Day.