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WISCH LIST: Celebrating Mother's Day in Chicago

With Mother’s Day on tap next weekend, there are many ways you can celebrate Mom in the Windy City — and we’ll get to those. But before we do, I thought you’d be interested to know more about the history of the holiday, which offers more plot twists than Chicago’s springtime weather.

In 1908, Mother’s Day was first celebrated when a woman named Anna Jarvis held a memorial for her mother at St. Andrew’s Methodist Church in Grafton, West Virginia. Three years earlier, Anna had begun a campaign to make Mother’s Day a recognized holiday following the death of her mom, Ann Reeves Jarvis, a peace activist who cared for soldiers on both sides of the Civil War. She wanted to set aside a special day because she believed a mother is “the person who has done more for you than anyone in the world.”

The U.S. Congress rejected a proposal in 1908 to make Mother’s Day an official holiday, joking that legislators also would have to proclaim a Mothers-in-Law Day. Undaunted, Anna kept pushing, and by 1911 every state observed the holiday. In 1914, President Woodrow Wilson signed a proclamation designating Mother’s Day as a national holiday observed annually on the second Sunday in May.

But then came the plot twist, as Anna eventually became resentful of the commercialization surrounding the holiday. By the early 1920s, she was in open rebellion against her own creation, organizing boycotts of Mother’s Day celebrations and threatening lawsuits against companies producing gifts and pre-made cards. In 1925, Anna was arrested for disturbing the peace while railing against the American War Mothers, who were selling Mother’s Day carnations.

Anna never got over what her holiday became, but if you can, here are some ways to celebrate Mom in Chicago next Sunday, some commercial, some charitable.

Brunch at the Zoo — May 13

Treat Mom to something wild at Lincoln Park Zoo’s Café Brauer (2021 N. Stockton Drive) with an expansive brunch buffet, drinks and one complimentary mimosa for mothers. Three seatings are offered at 8 a.m., 10:30 a.m. and 1 p.m., but act quickly as tickets are selling fast. Afterwards, you can burn off brunch with a walk around the zoo to see the animals — many of whom are mothers themselves. For more information, visit

Mother’s Day Cruise — May 13

To make a splash on Mother’s Day, bring Mom and the family to Navy Pier to board the Odyssey for a cruise around Lake Michigan while enjoying a meal, dancing to live music and spectacular skyline views. Three cruises are offered: an Early Brunch (boarding at 9:30 a.m.), an Afternoon Brunch (1:30 p.m.) and a Dinner Cruise (6 p.m.). For more information, visit

Gospel Brunch at House of Blues — May 13

At 10 a.m. and 12:30 p.m. next Sunday, the Chicago House of Blues (329 N. Dearborn) will host its Gospel Brunch, helping you really get into the spirit for Mother’s Day. Each show features local talent performing traditional and contemporary gospel songs while guests feast on an all-you-can-eat buffet featuring breakfast favorites, carving stations and southern specialties, as well as HOB’s signature chicken and waffles. For more information, visit

Komen Chicago Race for the Cure — May 13

For a different kind of Mother’s Day celebration, you can work up a sweat while helping to fight cancer during the Komen Chicago Race for the Cure 5K and 10K at Montrose Harbor (601 W. Montrose). Registration opens at 7:30 a.m. with a Survivor Parade at 8:30 a.m. in advance of the 9 a.m. start of the race. Beginning at 9:30, a Finish Fest Celebration will kick off, featuring live entertainment. For more information, visit

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