Is there anyone more deserving of a holiday than moms? We don’t think so. Moms do everything: They work, they cook, they clean, they take care of us when we’re sick and when we’re well, and they love us unconditionally. In fact, if mothers were paid for all of their efforts, they would make over $60,000 a year. However, motherhood is unpaid labor, so a holiday will have to suffice. Oh, you didn’t know moms’ labor is worth $30 an hour? Well then, there’s probably a lot you don’t know about Mother’s Day.
Though this mid-spring holiday is a fairly undramatic affair these days, Mother’s Day actually has a pretty dark backstory. After lobbying for years to honor moms across the United States with their own holiday, Mother’s Day founder Anna Jarvis grew to hate the over-commercialization of the occasion. She actually even tried to get Mother’s Day rescinded. Obviously, she was unsuccessful.
Today, that history is largely forgotten. Instead, children and fathers spend billions of dollars on jewelry, extravagant brunches, and other gifts for the mothers in their life. Want to know how much they spend? Well, you’ll have to check out these 12 things you didn’t know about Mother’s Day.
While the modern American Mother’s Day didn’t evolve until years later, the most clear precursor to the holiday was the Christian celebration of “Mothering Sunday.” In the United Kingdom and parts of Europe, Mothering Sunday fell on the fourth Sunday in Lent, where parishioners would return to their “mother” church. Afterwards, children would present their moms with flowers (which still remain a top Mother’s Day gift).
Ann Reeves Jarvis began “Mothers’ Day Work Clubs” to teach local women how to properly care for their children. Jarvis later organized “Mothers’ Friendship Day,” a peaceful movement where mothers convened with former Union and Confederate soldiers. Other proponents of Mother’s Day were Julia Ward Howe, who wrote the “Mother’s Day Proclamation,” in hopes of uniting mothers to stand for world peace. She later petitioned for June 2 to be recognized as “Mother’s Peace Day.” Activist Juliet Calhoun Blakely began a local Mother’s Day in Albion, Michigan, during the 1870s. Mary Towles Sasseen and Frank Hering also worked to organize an official Mothers’ Day.
After the death of Ann Reeves Jarvis in 1908, her daughter Anna Jarvis sought to host a celebration to thank mothers everywhere for all they do. She held the first Mother’s Day celebration in a Methodist Church in Grafton, West Virginia, with financial backing from Philadelphia retail owner John Wanamaker. Thousands also congregated in Philadelphia at Wanamaker’s retail store for a Mother’s Day celebration of their own.
Harris & Ewing / Wikimedia Commons
After Anna Jarvis successfully held her first Mother’s Day, she sought to make it a national celebration. After years of lobbying, she finally got the attention of President Woodrow Wilson in 1914. He proclaimed that the second Sunday in May, no matter what the date, would belong to moms across the nation.
Olairian / Wikimedia Commons
Anna Jarvis, though she founded the modern American concept of Mother’s Day, remained unmarried and childless throughout her entire life.
And it’s not because she never got to celebrate it herself. Soon after President Wilson declared Mother’s Day a national holiday, it became insanely commercialized (like it is today). Anna Jarvis actually campaigned to have Mother’s Day rescinded. She failed at that effort and was committed to a sanitarium instead in the 1940s. Who paid the bills to keep her in the asylum? The greeting card industry.
Coretta Scott King, the wife of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., organized a march on Mother’s Day in 1968 in support of underprivileged women and children. In the 1970s, women’s rights activists also used Mother’s Day to raise equality awareness.
Mother’s Day isn’t the second Sunday in May everywhere, though 94 countries do celebrate it on that day. Many countries celebrate mothers on International Women’s Day (March 8), the U.K and Ireland still celebrate it on Mothering Sunday, and France and other French-speaking countries honor moms on the last Sunday of May.
Mother’s Day has more phone calls than any other Sunday throughout the year. Roughly 68 percent of people intend on calling their mama this Mother’s Day. We hope the other 32 percent are spending time with their mom in real life, because if you spend time with your mama, she’ll live longer.
Literally. $23.6 billion was spent on Mother's Day gifts in 2017. The average consumer spent $186.39 on their mom.
Of that $23.6 billion, the National Retail Foundation said consumers spent $5 billion on jewelry, $4.2 on outings like a meal at a special occasion restaurant, $2.6 billion on flowers, $2.5 billion on gift cards, $2.1 billion on clothing, $2 billion on consumer electronics, and $1.9 billion on personal services such as a day at the best spa in the state.
Whether it’s fathers treating their wives to a day away from the kitchen or children pampering their mom with an amazing brunch, Mother’s Day is the most popular day of the year for people to eat out. Yes, it beats both Valentine’s Day and New Year’s Eve, and we recommend you take Mom to the best brunch in your state.
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