That the tradition of honoring mothers dates back to Ancient Greece and Rome? Festivals were held to pay tribute to the Greek “Mother Goddess” Rhea, and the Roman “Mother Goddess” Cybele.
What would become Mother’s Day in the United Kingdom began as “Mothering Sunday” in the 16th Century, which was celebrated on the fourth Sunday of Lent.
One would visit his or her “Mother Church.” This was either the church where one was christened, one’s local parish, or sometimes just the nearest cathedral. This was referred to as “Going a Mothering.” Servants were given a day off to celebrate this religious holiday.
Churchgoers would gather wildflowers to place in their church and to give to their mothers. Even though the celebration occurred during Lent, the faithful were allowed to present mothers with gifts of food such as fig pie or Simnel cake.
Eventually, Mothering Sunday morphed into the more secular holiday known as Mother’s Day. However, in the UK, it is still celebrated on the fourth Sunday of Lent.
The roots of Mother’s Day in the United States harkens back to pre-Civil War days.
Ann Reeves Jarvis of West Virginia was instrumental in founding “Mother’s Day Work Clubs,” which taught local women the proper care of children. These clubs later helped bring a divided nation together after the Civil War. Ms. Jarvis put together “Mothers’ Friendship Day.” Both former Confederate and Union mothers met to promote the healing of the Country.
There were other predecessors to our modern Mother’s Day celebration.
In 1870, Julia Ward Howe, suffragette and abolitionist, penned the “Mother’s Day Proclamation,” a call for world peace. In 1873, Howe sought support to establish a “Mother’s Peace Day” to be celebrated on June 2nd.
A temperance reformer, named Juliet Calhoun Blakely, was the driving force behind Mother’s Day being celebrated in Albion, Michigan in the late 1800s.
As we move on to the 19th and twentieth centuries, Mary Towles Sasseen and Frank Hering, worked to celebrate Mother’s Day. Hering is thought to be “the father of Mother’s Day.”
Mother’s Day became an official holiday thanks to the tireless efforts of the daughter of Ann Reeves Jarvis, Anna Jarvis. Following her mother’s death in 1905, Anna Jarvis thought that Mother’s Day is a way to honor the sacrifices mothers make for their children.
She garnered financial support from a Pennsylvania businessman, John Wanamaker. She organized the first “official” Mother’s Day celebration at a Methodist church in Grafton, West Virginia, in 1908. Thousands of people attended a Mother’s Day celebration the same day at one of Wanamaker’s retail stores in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.
Jarvis then mounted a mammoth letter-writing campaign to have her holiday become a national holiday. She argued that the current holidays were biased toward “male achievements,” thus the Nation should adopt a national holiday honoring motherhood.
Her noble efforts were finally rewarded; in 1914, President Woodrow Wilson signed a bill that the second Sunday in May would be Mother’s Day.
Here are some more fun facts about Mother’s Day in the U.S.
- The most phone calls placed in one day occur on Mother’s Day—It is estimated there are roughly 122 million phone calls made each year on Mother’s Day.
- Mother’s Day is the third-best holiday for selling flowers and plants- Christmas and Hanukkah take the number one and number two spots, respectively. Nearly one-fourth of all flowers purchased during the year are bought for Mother’s Day.
- The busiest day for restaurants—A survey conducted by the National Restaurant Association showed that 48% of people interviewed planned to go to a restaurant for Mother’s Day.
- The word “Mom” actually comes from infants- Typically, the first sound that a baby can utter is the “ma’ sound. This accounts for the fact that in virtually every language, the word for mother begins with the letter “M” or some type of “ma” sound.
- Over $31 billion was spent on Mother’s Day in 2022- The average cost per gift was approximately $245.
- Carnations hold a unique meaning for Mother’s Day- Anna Reeves Jarvis utilized the carnation on Mother’s Day to indicate whether one’s mother was living or deceased or living. A red carnation shows that one’s mother is alive, while a white rose indicates she has passed away.
- Last but not least is what mothers want for Mother’s Day- A survey conducted by RetailMeNot, dining out with her family is what Mom wants most for Mother’s Day.