Did you know that when you treat mom to brunch on Mother’s Day, you’re actually celebrating a major milestone in the women’s movement?
According to history books, it’s West Virginia’s Anna Jarvis we have to thank for Mother’s Day. Working tirelessly at the turn of the century, Jarvis petitioned every U.S. state governor and national celebrity (including Theodore Roosevelt and Mark Twain) to establish a designated holiday in honour of mothers.
In 1914, she got her wish when President Woodrow Wilson assigned the second Sunday in May as a national celebration of mom.
But why do we treat mom to brunch on her special day? How did we jump from simple domestic celebrations of the 1920s to eggs Benny, mushroom frittatas and two (maybe three) mimosas before noon?
It turns out that gender played an important role in the development of brunch as a social institution, according to Farha Ternikar, author of Brunch: A History. Back in the late 1800s, a woman wasn’t permitted to dine alone in a restaurant unaccompanied by a man. But by the turn of the century all that changed when suffragettes, after a hard-fought battle, won the right to dine in public…at least during daytime hours. Over the years, brunch evolved into a symbol for women’s freedoms and victories.
From 1930-1950, Sunday brunch exploded in popularity. In those days, brunch was marketed as a way to “give mom a break.” Since it combined two meals in one, it was sold as a meal that saved both time and money. Plus, eggs are hard to mess up, making it the perfect meal for the novice cook. Then, during the ’60s and ’70s, brunch became the working woman’s weekend respite — a way to gather with friends at a restaurant.
How we feel about brunch hasn’t changed much since the early days. As Guy Beringer wrote in Hunter’s Weekly in 1895 (in what is now regarded as the first mention of the word brunch): “Brunch is cheerful, sociable and inciting. It is talk-compelling. It puts you in good temper, it makes you satisfied with yourself and your fellow human beings, it sweeps away the worries and the cobwebs of the week.”
We have to agree.