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Mother’s Day : History, Facts and Trivia

Everything you need to know about the history, the facts and interesting trivia about Mother's Day.
By Maria Komal
May 17, 2021
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Mother’s Day, which is celebrated every May, allows people to show their deep appreciation for one of the most influential people in their lives: their mothers. Cards, presents, roses, and romantic gestures like breakfast in bed or at-home spa treatments are often used to show mothers how much they are valued. Although Mother’s Day may appear to be a simple holiday, it has a lot more to it than you would expect.

Rhea and Cybele, the maternal goddesses of the ancient Greeks and Romans, were honored with festivals. Mother’s Day does, though, have a rich contemporary history in “Mothering Sunday,” an early Christian event.

This event, which falls on the fourth Sunday of Lent, was once a major rite in the United Kingdom and European countries and was thought to be a day when the devoted people would come back to the “mother church”—which is their area’s main church.

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As the Mothering Sunday practice developed into a contemporary event, children began sending their beloved mothers flowers and other presents to appreciate her love. This practice fell out of favor in the 1930s and 1940s, eventually incorporated into Mother’s Day in the United States.

Photo by Jordan Whitt on Unsplash

Known to us today as Mother’s Day, its origin in the United States comes from the nineteenth century. Ann Reeves Jarvis from West Virginia assisted in establishing “Mothers’ Day Work Clubs” in the years that led to the Civil War. She helped and taught local women the best way to care for their children.

Following the Civil War, these clubs were a united team in a part of the still fractured country. Jarvis founded “Mothers’ Friendship Day” in 1868. It was a gathering of former Union and Confederate soldiers with mothers to promote peace.

Abolitionist and suffragette Julia Ward Howe were amongst the early supporters of Mother’s Day. “Mother’s Day Proclamation” was written by Howe in 1870, a rallying movement for mothers to unite in the service of world peace. Howe initiated a campaign to create a “Mother’s Peace Day” on June 2 in 1873.

Juliet Calhoun Blakely was also another early Mother’s Day activist. She was a temperance leader who established a Mother’s Day celebration in the 1870s in Albion and Michigan. In the late 19th and early 20th centuries, Mary Towles Sasseen of Henderson and Frank Hering known as the “Father of Mother’s Day” worked together to organize a Mothers’ Day.

Anna Jarvis Made Mother's Day a National Holiday

Anna Jarvis was instrumental in the 1900s. Due to her efforts, the holiday was made official on Mother’s Day. She organized Mother’s Day in 1905 to highlight the role of mothers as they sacrifice themselves for their children.

The first official Mother’s Day celebration was in Methodist church in Grafton, West Virginia. Anna Jarvis arranged that celebration in May 1908. This was after John Wanamaker, the store owner of a Philadelphia department, financially supported her. Thousands of residents turned out for a Mother’s Day celebration at a Wanamaker’s Philadelphia shopping location on the same day.

Following the popularity of her first Mother’s Day celebration, Jarvis vowed to see the holiday in the national calendar, even though she had never married or had children in her life. She began a huge letter-writing campaign to leading politicians and newspapers, advocating the introduction of an unforgettable day celebrating motherhood, claiming that American holidays were skewed against male accomplishments.

Mother’s Day had become an annual holiday by 1912 in several states, churches, and cities. To further her cause Jarvis had established the Mother’s Day International Association. Mother’s Day was formally organized on the second Sunday in May in 1914, thanks to President Woodrow Wilson’s signature.

Mother's Day Facts That Everyone Should Know

Mother’s Day Has Different Dates

Mother’s Day is always on the second Sunday in May, so the date changes every year. It is on May 9 this year, so it will be on a different day next year.

Restaurants Are Typically Full on Mother’s Day

While the coronavirus pandemic would make 2020 an outlier, Mother’s Day usually accounts for the busiest day of the year for all the restaurants in the world with an estimated 80 million adults dining out (outnumbering even Valentine’s Day). Nearly half of all people eat dinner rather than lunch or breakfast, which means getting a reservation early is usually better.


The Flower Market Is Always the Winner

As Mother’s Day first appeared in 1914, carnations immediately became the emblem of the holiday (supposedly representing Mary’s tears when Jesus was crucified), and the floral industry quickly encouraged the concept of wearing a red carnation to honor a person’s living mother or a white carnation to honor a mother who had died. While this custom has vanished, 76% of moms still wish to get flowers on this particular day from their children or loved ones. So, for flower sales, Mother’s Day is probably the number one day.

Roman and Greek Mythology

According to ancient mythology, the Greeks and Romans celebrated Goddess Cybele, personifying the Great Mother Earth and the Goddess of Fertility, and Rhea, the mother of Gods. This is how they celebrated Mother’s Day.

People Honor Other Peoples’ Mothers as Well

You’re going to give a card to your mother, but are you planning to send cards to other mothers as well? A typical customer purchases 2.8 Mother’s Day cards, indicating that most consumers purchase more than just for their mother. In reality, 57% of mothers report receiving Mother’s Day presents from non-family members.

People Spend an Insane Amount of Money on Mother’s Day

People spend more than $14 billion on Mother’s Day, which is a crazy number. Most of that money is used to purchase flowers as people honor their mother and other peoples’ mothers too.

Jewelry Presents

While flowers continue to be the most popular option for giving as a gift, 36% of Americans still choose Jewelry to gift their mother on Mother’s Day.

Beauty Salons and Spas Are Also Crowded on Mother’s Day

Well, it is Mother’s Day, and moms have all the right to look beautiful. According to the National Retail Federation, people spent more than $2 billion on beauty salons and spas in 2020.

Mother’s Day Celebrations Around the World

Though Mother’s Day is observed all around the world, different regions have different customs. People in Thailand still celebrate Mother’s Day in August because the current queen Sirikit’s birthday comes in August.

People of Ethiopia follow another alternate Mother’s Day celebration, where people assemble each person, sing songs and feast. It is a multi-day celebration celebrating Mother’s Day.

People usually prefer giving presents and roses to mothers in the United States. Today it is probably the most important holiday for consumer buying. Children often rejoice as they allow mothers to take a day off from household tasks and other responsibilities.

Mother’s Day has occasionally been used to launch feminist or progressive movements. In 1968 Coretta Scott King, Martin Luther King, Jr.’s wife, led a march on Mother’s Day for deprived children and women. In the 1970s, different women’s organizations used Mother’s Day to emphasize civil opportunities and access to childcare.