Friday, April 24, 2015

This Mother's Day, entertain your mom with the fun and interesting history of her special day!

Every second Sunday in May, we pay tribute to the greatest and most important women we'll ever know - out mothers! By now, Mother's Day is so ingrained in our national conscience that we take our mothers out to brunch, buy them cards, and present them pretty flowers en masse, but how many of us know how the holiday actually started? So this year, entertain your mom with a few fun and interesting facts about the origin about her special day. 

About Mother’s Day:
Mother’s Day is a holiday in the United States that falls on the second Sunday in May every year.

Mother's Day is “meant to honor mothers and their influence in society, maternal bonds and motherhood itself.”

It was first made an official holiday by President Woodrow Wilson in 1914, but the origins go back much further and are quite controversial and tragic.

Many other countries have their own Mother’s Day or a similar maternal day of recognition, though origins and traditions vary. In some parts of the world it’s celebrated in March, other months, or assimilated with International Women’s Day.

The great debate - is it "Mother’s Day" or "Mothers’ Day?"
Over the decades, the correct spelling of the holiday has created some derision and controversy. Some people think it’s “Mothers' Day,” which mean we’re celebrating all mothers. Others insist that “Mother's Day” is correct, as the holiday was created so we can pay tribute to our own mother, only. Even advertisements sometimes get it wrong.

The official, correct answer is that it’s “Mother’s Day.” Why?

"It wasn't to celebrate all mothers. It was to celebrate the best mother you've ever known—your mother—as a son or a daughter,” according to Ann Reeves Jarvis, who founded the holiday.

The sordid history of Mother’s Day:
The origins of Mother’s Day are somewhat misunderstood and overlooked. The day is sometimes attributed to Mothering Sunday, a Christian holiday. Some people think it came from Cybele or Hilaria, Greek and Roman festivals that centered on honoring matriarchs, but neither of those are related to our modern tradition.

In fact, Julia Howe, the woman who wrote the Battle Hymn of the Republic, first attempted start a Mother’s Day in 1872. The day was meant to be an antiwar observance to honor mothers who lost their sons in battle. It was celebrated mostly in Boston for about 10 years before losing popularity and fizzling out, becoming nothing but an asterisk in history.

But there were other contributors at work around that time. In the late 1850s, a woman named Ann Reeves Jarvis from West Virginia started Mother’s Day work clubs. The clubs were formed to “improve sanitary conditions and try to lower infant mortality by fighting disease and curbing milk contamination,” which were significant problems at the time.

When the country fell into war, Ann Reeves Jarvis’s Mother’s Day clubs turned their efforts to aiding wounded soldiers. The number of injured and dead during the Civil War was alarming, so from 1861 to 1865, her club endeavored to tend to the wounded from both sides of the conflict.

When the Civil War ended and the country looked to sew together the fragile fabric of unification, Jarvis and her Mother’s Day club organized Mother’s Friendship Days, picnics, and other events to try to unite former Confederate and Union factions and promote peace. Jarvis formed a committee to establish a national Mother’s Friendship Day, but it didn’t take hold during her lifetime and she died in 1905.

But she did leave behind a precocious daughter, also named Ann Jarvis, who picked up her mother’s work. The younger Jarvis rallied for a Mother’s Day again, partly to serve as a memorial to the life’s work of her fallen mother. The first popular Mother's Day was celebrated in 1908 and the holiday grew in popularity. In 1912, Anna Jarvis trademarked the terms ‘Mother's Day' and ‘the second Sunday in May' and also created Mother's Day International Association.

And finally, in 1914, the holiday achieved the penultimate recognition, when President Woodrow Wilson declared Mother’s Day an official national holiday.

Controversy and tragedy around Mother's Day.
But instead of being a moment of joy and achievement for Ann Jarvis to remember her mother, history took a dark turn. Instead of honoring the original mission of promoting peace, unity, and honoring the fallen, Mother’s Day became increasingly commercial. By 1920, only 6 years later, the original spirit of the holiday was largely forgotten and the day was all about buying flowers and giving gifts, an agenda promoted by retailers, florists, and restaurants, etc.

Ann Jarvis was appalled by how the national holiday had developed and rallied to reverse the current. The woman who was responsible for founding Mother’s Day now dedicated herself to reforming the holiday. She wrote letters, protested, organized boycotts, threatened lawsuits, and even took the First Lady, Eleanor Roosevelt, when the President’s wife used the holiday to raise funds for charities. The fight against a commercial Mother’s Day consumed her until the 1940s, when her obsession landed her in a sanitarium. She died at 84 years old in 1948 in the Marshall Square Sanitarium in Philadelphia, shattered, dispirited, and financially destitute despite forming one of the most popular holidays in American history.

By the time she died, Mother's Day was observed in 45 countries around the world.

Mother’s Day by the numbers:
The National Retail Federation reports that total spending on Mother’s Day will reach $19.9 billion this year.

Last year, Americans spent $162.94 per person on their mothers for the holiday.

That’s down about $6 from the year before, so we’re slacking with spoiling our mothers!

Every Mother’s Day, we make approximately 122 million phone calls to our mothers in the United States.

According to the U.S. National Restaurant Association, Mother's Day is the most popular day of the year for people to dine out.

Traditional gifts for our mothers include flowers, a Mother’s Day card, gift cards to her favorite store, vacations, trips to the spa, books, etc.

That's a lot of flowers!
Of all the flowers purchased for holidays in the U.S., and astounding 25% are purchased for Mother’s Day.

Numerous studies have shown that there are actually health and psychological benefits to receiving flowers.

Carnations are the most common flower we give to our mothers on the holiday.

But the color we choose shouldn’t be arbitrary; the tradition goes that on Mother's Day, you give pink and red carnations if your mother is still alive and you’d honor a grave or memorial with white carnations if she has passed away.

Mother's Day cards:
Other than florists and restaurants, Hallmark is the big winner on Mother’s Day. The greeting card company first started selling Mother’s Day cards way back in 1920, and now reports that the day of homage to our moms is the third most popular holiday for cards, behind Christmas and Valentine’s Day.

Every year, we send or exchange about 133 million Mother's Day cards according to Hallmark.

Interesting facts:
At any given time there are about 4.1 million new mothers in the United States, women aged 15 to 50 who gave birth in the last 12 months.

Stepmothers can be honored on Mother’s Day, too. About 14 million children have stepmoms and 5.6 million live with their surrogate maternal parents in the U.S. these days.

August is the most popular month in which to have a baby.

The highest officially recorded number of children born to one mother is 69, by a woman in Russia. Between 1725 and 1765, she gave birth to 16 pairs of twins, seven sets of triplets, and four sets of quadruplets.

One U.S, mother has three children who were all born on the exact same date. Jenna Cotton gave has a son, Ayden, that was born Oct. 2, 2003, another son, Logan, who was born Oct. 2, 2006, and a daughter, Kayla, who came into the world on Oct. 2, 2007. Statisticians calculate that the odds of a mother having three children born on the same date in different years at about 7.5 in 1 million.


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