This Mother’s Day, impress (or startle) your mom with new ink and some tidbits about the history of the mom tattoo. After all, most bouquets only last 2 weeks … but ink and knowledge are forever.

Here are 5 facts you can dish out at Mother’s Day tea parties forevermore.

1. One Irish sailor’s inspiration

Imagine an Irish sailor singing a song. He stops at the lyrics “saluted my father, kissed me darling mother” to tearfully ramble about missing his mom back on land. Then he demands to have a heart with her name permanently inked on his chest. Now, that may not have actually happened, but legend goes that an Irish sailor inspired by the song “Rocky Road to Dublin” was the first to get a heart-based mom tattoo and popularize the idea.

2. The men of the U.S. Navy loved their moms

More than 20 percent of sailors in the U.S. Navy going to war in 1941 were younger than 20 years old — often too young to have wives. Still, they missed home. So, in addition to patriotic ink (which had already long been a tradition for sailors), they opted for tribute tattoos of their mothers.

3. Sailor Jerry’s design

A young American boy born in 1911 toured the country by hopping freight trains and discovered the art of the tattoo before joining the U.S. Navy as a sailor. His name was Norman Collins, but he preferred the name Sailor Jerry. After his service in the Navy, Sailor Jerry settled in Honolulu to build his legacy tattooing sailors during WWII. Along with his popular flash tattoos, the heart and banner mom tattoo remains an iconic Sailor Jerry design.

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4. Memorial tributes to moms long gone

Tattoos as tributes to mom have been around since the 1700s. Up until 1920, though, these were usually to remember mothers that passed away. They featured images associated with mourning such as willow trees and religious iconography. Memorial designs remain a common Mother’s Day tattoo choice, with many different styles now available.

5. A modern twist on the classic

If you want to get a modern tribute tattoo on Mother’s Day, you’re not limited to the traditional heart and banner design anymore. While still popular, there are many different styles like handwriting, custom motifs, and portraits including the name of the mother and times and dates for a memorial tattoo. And for those who want a more personal memorial tribute, you can combine ashes into the ink.

Whether you celebrate with a tribute tattoo or (for the more needle-shy) a delicious brunch, make sure your mom knows how much she’s loved this Mother’s Day. Want more mom-inspired goodness? Check out these safe driving tips learned from moms around the country.

Related links

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about Sara

Sara Border is a copywriter and blog enthusiast at Esurance. Before that, she traveled the world as a (ghost)writer with too many Word of the Day email subscriptions. Sara loves outer space, fluffy dogs, and self-education.