Where would we be without our mothers? While we love them all year round, it's nice to spoil them a little extra on Mother's Day. But how much do you know about this internationally recognized holiday? Check out some of the most incredible things you probably didn't know about Mother's Day.
Ann Maria Reeves Jarvis is credited with trying to help people on both sides during the U.S. Civil War. From providing food to medical care and more, Jarvis devoted herself to aiding others. After the conflict ended, she worked to establish a "Mothers Friendship Day." It was part of a broader effort for post-Civil War healing, to bridge the divide between Union and Confederate families.
Ann Jarvis died in 1905, but her legacy didn't stop there. Her daughter, Anna Jarvis, pushed for a day to celebrate her mother. The day was to be one where families took time to recognize and praise their mothers. Anna Jarvis officially held what is considered the first Mother's Day celebration on May 10, 1908.
Mother's Day proved to be popular. Really popular. It spread not only across most of the United States and its territories, but even to other countries as well. The popularity wasn't missed by the U.S. federal government; Woodrow Wilson officially declared it a national holiday. He signed the proclamation on May 9, 1914.
People traditionally associate carnations with Mother's Day, and they are a popular gift for mothers every year. But why carnations specifically? That tradition also dates back to Anna Jarvis, on that first Mother's Day ceremony in 1908. Among the day's events was a service at Andrews Methodist Episcopal Church. Jarvis sent 500 carnations there, as white carnations were her mother's favorite flowers.
Andrews Methodist Episcopal Church (also known as St. Andrew's Methodist Church) didn't fade into obscurity. It is currently recognized as a National Historic Landmark and is now known as the official International Mother's Day Shrine.
Jarvis originally intended for the holiday to be focused on individual families and genuine love. Unfortunately, businesses quickly pounced on the popular day to make themselves a profit. Cards, candies, and more flooded the market, advertised as gifts for this celebration. Jarvis was so frustrated with the loss of the original meaning that she eventually campaigned against Mother's Day.
There's no denying that Mother's Day has come a long way from its original intent. Despite Anna Jarvis's best efforts, annual spending for this holiday is consistently high. NRF estimates for spending on Mother's Day in 2019 are roughly $25 billion.
Only Christmas outperforms Mother's Day in terms of gift-giving. And the comparative Father's Day? Spending in 2018 was about $133 a person, which equates to $15.3 billion in spending. While this is nothing to sneeze at, it certainly falls short of Mother's Day spending habits.
Nations around the world honor Mother's Day or an equivalent celebration. In the United States, it is officially held on the second Sunday of May every year. But that isn't the case everywhere! Over 20 countries celebrate Mother's Day or an equivalent holiday on March 8, which is also recognized as International Women's Day. For others, celebrations recognizing mothers fall on the Spring Equinox.
Mothering Sunday is a religious holiday that some Christians recognize on the fourth Sunday of Lent. The purpose of this day was to celebrate your "mother" church. A mother church could be interpreted a few ways: the church where you received the sacrament of baptism or the main church in your general area. This celebration has evolved over time, much like the real Mother's Day. Now, people often honor this day by celebrating their mothers and giving gifts.