Story and Photos by Kaitlin Hill
As the second Sunday of May rolls around, guilty feeling children young and old scramble to buy cards and carnations for the woman or, in some cases, women who raised them. Grandmothers sit by the phone as godmothers check their mailboxes, and new mothers with little ones are thankful for a moment of peace on a day just for them. Mother’s Day – like most holidays – is big business, especially for florists, gift shops and even the phone company. However, the holiday’s roots were never commercial. When the tradition most similar to today’s iteration first started, it was intended as a day of gratitude and tribute for hard-working women in wartime.
Though days of mother praise can be tracked as far back as the ancient Greeks and Medieval Europe’s “Mothering Sundays,” Mother’s Day as we know it is a relatively recent holiday. The day’s creation is credited to a woman named Ann Reeves Jarvis who lived in West Virginia during the Civil War. Prior to the war, Jarvis started “Mother’s Day Work Clubs,” which, far from honoring motherly excellence, were intended to teach women to be better mothers. In the aftermath of the Civil War, Jarvis’ clubs changed their focus. In 1868, she gathered moms from both sides to encourage rapprochement between former Union and Confederate soldiers. This day was known as “Mother’s Friendship Day.”
There were other champions of mom-centric holidays, too. Julia Ward Howe, an abolitionist and suffragette, campaigned for a “Mother’s Peace Day” in 1873. Mary Towles Sasseen and Frank Hering, two activists, also worked to have an official day for mothers in the early 20th century.
Ultimately, it was the continued efforts of Jarvis’ daughter, Anna, after her mother’s death that led to the creation of an organized holiday. Jarvis the second’s new holiday was first celebrated in 1908 in Grafton, West Virginia. Even though towns across the nation were celebrating their matriarchs by 1912, it wasn’t declared a national holiday until 1914. Only after her exhaustive letter writing campaign and the establishment of her Mother’s Day International Association did Woodrow Wilson agree to make it official.
As the time passed, much to Anna Jarvis’ dismay, the holiday shifted from expressions of gratitude to an excess of gift giving. Ironically, she would spend most of the rest of her life and wealth trying to reverse her work and have the holiday removed from the American calendar. Her protests, lawsuits and lobbying were unsuccessful, as the holiday had already caught on.
Today, the Jarvis message of sentiment over spending is definitely history; The National Retail Federation reported a record high at $23.6 billion for Mother’s Day in 2017, with greeting cards, flowers and “special outings” topping the charts. Personally, I agree with Jarvis. And every year, I hope my mom does too. I opt for a handmade, often homey and always edible gift over a store bought something or other.
Breakfast in bed is my go-to solution. It doesn’t have to be complicated or extravagant, just a simple treat she can enjoy on the one day of the year she isn’t expected to tend to her adult-but-still-immature children. My Strawberry Scones are just the thing to show your mom how much you love her. They are easy enough for cooks of any level, even my brother, and come together in about 30 minutes. Better yet, you can prepare them the night before and bake them on Mother’s Day morning as you make her tea and hunt down her slippers. Make Jarvis proud and bake some this Mother’s Day for the special woman in your life. I promise you she’ll feel the love.
2 cups of all-purpose flour
1/3 cup of sugar
1 teaspoon of baking powder
1/4 teaspoon of baking soda
1/2 teaspoon of salt
1 stick of cold unsalted butter, grated
1/2 cup of cold heavy cream
1 cup of strawberries, chopped
Whisk together the flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda and salt in a large bowl.
Add the frozen grated butter and toss in the dry ingredients to coat. Once the butter is coated, rub the butter into the flour with your fingers.
Whisk together one of the eggs with the cream. Add the wet ingredients to the dry and mix with a spoon, or your hands, until it just comes together. The dough should be sticky to the touch and appear slightly shaggy.
Turn the dough out onto a generously floured surface. Roll the dough into a large rectangle. Add half of the strawberries along the lower half of the dough. Fold the top half over the bottom. Roll the dough out again, sealing in the strawberries. Repeat the process with the second half of
Pat the dough into a round that is an inch to an inch and a quarter in thickness. Cut the circle like a pizza into eight triangles.
Place the triangles on a parchment lined baking sheet and transfer to the freezer for 10 minutes or cover the scones and leave in the
When you are ready to bake, preheat the oven to 400° F.
Remove the scones from the freezer (or refrigerator). In a small bowl, whisk together the second egg and two tablespoons of water. Using a pastry brush, apply a thin layer of egg wash to the top of each scone.
Place the scones into the oven and bake for 15 – 18 minutes, rotating the pan halfway through the baking time. The scones are finished baking when they are puffed and golden.
Let cool slightly and serve. ML