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Mother's Day at 100: A history of a national holiday in greeting cards
Moms keep changing with the times. And greeting card companies keep changing their Mother's Day cards along with them.
This year marks the 100th anniversary of President Woodrow Wilson's declaration of Mother's Day as a national holiday. So how has motherhood changed over the decades?
To answer that question, amNewYork took a look at greeting cards from the major companies that create them. While the cards may not reflect exactly how mothers have felt about themselves, they capture the way they have been represented over the years.
1920s: Vintage mom
Color on early printed Mother's Day cards was hand applied. Imagery was traditional, associating mothers with soft imagery like flowers and dresses that were traditionally associated with femininity. Decisions about what imagery was chosen was based on sales. (Credit: Hallmark)
1950s: Still flowery
Traditional imagery continued to dominate well into the 1950s even though times were changing. (Credit: American Greetings)
1960s: The working mom
Greeting cards began to reflect changing gender roles in the 1960s. Here, an example from Hallmark, showcased the working mom. Other cards from this period riffed on the larger cultural rebellion by women. (Credit: Hallmark)
While Hallmark had designed cards for a black audience beginning in the 1960s, it wasn't until 1987 that the company had introduced a dedicated line called "Mahogany." Hallmark says New York is the second-largest market for the line. (Credit: Hallmark)
Greeting cards were quickly translated to the Internet as the web began to revolutionize commerce and culture in the mid-1990s. Initially, cyber-moms received a link to a dedicated web page where they could view their cards for a limited time. This is a screenshot of an early Mother's Day e-card from BlueMountain.com, one of the most popular early purveyors of e-cards. (Credit: Wayback Machine/BlueMountain.com)
2000s: A hipper, more fashionable mom
Various trends converged in the 1990s to make the Mother's Day card hipper and more fashionable. (Credit: Hallmark)
2000s: Grandmas, stepmoms and blended families
By the 2000s, card companies began introducing one innovation after another: pop-up designs, musical cards and lights. Companies also began to diversify their message. No longer were moms just receiving cards, but also grandmas and stepmoms. This card from American Greetings, released in 2012, combined both trends: opening it "lit up" a string of lights on the rainbow alongside a special message to grandma. (Credit: American Greetings)
2014: If you have two moms
Hallmark introduced two cards this year that continues the company's tradition of following social trends: Both have messages for same-sex parents. The one pictured here is for lesbian couples. "How does anyone ever get by with just one?" the inside reads. "Happy Moms Day." (Credit: Hallmark)