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Mother’s Day – History, Facts & Trivia

Everything you need to know about the history, the facts and interesting trivia about Mother's Day.
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Mother's Day History - there's a lot more to it than you would expect for this special occasion to celebrate and appreciate mum.
Source: Unsplash
By Maria Komal
May 9, 2021

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 honoured 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.

Ann Reeves Jarvis founded Mother’s Day work clubs in the 1850s to improve sanitation facilities and reduce child mortality by combating illness and preventing milk contamination. Mother’s Day workgroups provided care to military personnel on all sides of the front lines of the war.

Following the battle, Jarvis stayed committed to assisting those who had served on both sides of the violent struggle, establishing “Mothers’ Friendship Day” as a way of bridging enemy neighbors.

Ann’s daughter, Anna Jarvis, was encouraged to start the first Mother’s Day celebrations a few years after her mother’s death in 1905.

To celebrate the sacrifices mothers make for their children, the younger Jarvis arranged the first Mother’s Day celebration at a West Virginia church.

Following the celebration’s increasing popularity, President Woodrow Wilson of the United States proclaimed the second Sunday in May as Mother’s Day in 1914.

Jarvis was never married and had no children in her life.

Mother's Day Has A Little-Known Sad And Disturbing History

Mother's Day didn't always start with buying gifts to show your appreciation. Learn more about the history of Mother's Day here.
Source: Unsplash

One day Anna Jarvis went to Wanamaker’s department store in Philadelphia, years after initiating Mother’s Day. She noticed they had a “Mother’s Day Salad” on the menu. She was surprised to see that and ordered the salad, and when it arrived, she got up, tossed it on the ground, stormed out in a huff, leaving the money to compensate for it. Jarvis had lost sight over the holiday she had strived to make, and her fear that commercialism was ruining Mother’s Day had devastated her.

Anna Jarvis was very depressed when her mother died in 1905. Jarvis quickly became dissatisfied with Mother Day’s economic interests. Mother’s Day, she said, should be “a day of sentiment, not benefits.” She had no interest in making money even though she was the one who made “Mother’s Day” official.

She began urging citizens to avoid purchasing presents and flowers for their mothers around 1920 and turned against commercial allies who supported her. She called greeting card companies, Florists, and the confectionery business “thieves, and robbers who would sabotage one of the best festivals with their greed.”

She tried to end the flower business by suing and filing a patent application for the carnation and the terms “Mother’s Day.” The Florist Telegraph Delivery (FTD) organisation gave her a commission on Mother’s Day carnation purchases in reaction to her legal threats, but this angered her even more.

The United States Postal Service released stamps for Mother’s Day in 1934. For the pic, they used a painting by artist James Whistler known as Whistler’s Mother. Jarvis was furious when she saw the final stamp because she thought it was also an advertisement for the floral industry. Jarvis campaigned against causes that raised money on Mother’s Day. To discourage the selling of carnations, she was pulled screaming from an American War Mothers conference and detained for disrupting the peace. She also penned op-eds criticising Eleanor Roosevelt for raising funds on Mother’s Day.

In Philadelphia, Jarvis went door-to-door, calling for signatures on a petition to cancel Mother’s Day is one of her last public appearances. She became weird in her later years and started living lonely.

Jarvis lived her last days in West Chester, Pennsylvania, at the Marshall Square Sanitarium, a now-defunct mental asylum. On November 24, 1948, she passed away. Jarvis was never aware that a community of thankful florists helped pay for half of her stay at the asylum. Mother’s Day cost her everything financially and physically.

Anna Jarvis - the founder of Mother's Day.
Source: Wikipedia

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
Every year on Mother's Day, restaurants would be typically full.
Source: Unsplash

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 honour a person’s living mother or a white carnation to honour a mother who had died. While this custom has vanished, 76% of mums 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 Honour 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 honour their mothers and other peoples’ mothers.

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 mums 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 organisations used Mother’s Day to emphasize civil opportunities and access to childcare.