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Mother’s Day is an annual holiday intended to recognize the important contribution that mothers make to their families and society as a whole. In Canada and the United States it is celebrated on the second Sunday of every May and the traditional gift for mom is flowers.
Mother’s Day is often complicated by troubled relationships with mothers and children, tragic losses, gender identity, and more. We may be conscious of many people in our lives who “mothered” us. In history, there have been many different ways of celebrating mothers and motherhood.
In addition to the popular Mother’s Day holiday in the United States, many cultures celebrate a Mother’s Day:
- Mother’s Day in Britain—or Mothering Sunday—is the fourth Sunday in Lent.
- The second Sunday in May is Mother’s Day not only in the United States, but also in other countries including Denmark, Finland, Italy, Turkey, Australia, and Belgium. By the end of Anna Jarvis’ life, Mother’s Day was celebrated in more than 40 countries.
- In Spain, Mother’s Day is December 8, on the Feast of the Immaculate Conception, so that not only mothers in one’s family are honored, but also Mary, mother of Jesus.
- In France, Mother’s Day is on the last Sunday of May. A special cake resembling a bouquet of flowers is presented to mothers at a family dinner.
- The Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom, the Women’s Action for Nuclear Disarmament, the League of Women Voters and other organizations still organize protests on Mother’s Day: The Million Mom March, protests at nuclear weapons sites, etc.
People in many ancient cultures celebrated holidays honoring motherhood, personified as a goddess. Here are just a few of those:
- Ancient Greeks celebrated a holiday in honor of Rhea, the mother of the gods.
- Ancient Romans celebrated a holiday in honor of Cybele, a mother goddess, March 22-25 – the celebrations were notorious enough that followers of Cybele were banished from Rome.
- In the British Isles and Celtic Europe, the goddess Brigid, and later her successor St. Brigid, were honored with a spring Mother’s Day, connected with the first milk of the ewes.
• In the United States, there are about 82.5 million mothers. (source: US Census Bureau)
• About 96% of American consumers take part in some way in Mother’s Day (source: Hallmark)
• Mother’s Day is widely reported as the peak day of the year for long distance telephone calls.
• There are more than 23,000 florists in the United States with a total of more than 125,000 employees. Colombia is the leading foreign supplier of cut flowers and fresh flower buds to the US. California produces two-thirds of domestic production of cut flowers. (source: US Census Bureau)
• Mother’s Day is the busiest day of the year for many restaurants.
• Retailers report that Mother’s Day is the second highest gift-giving holiday in the United States (Christmas is the highest).
• Most popular month for having babies in the U.S. is August, and the most popular weekday is Tuesday. (source: US Census Bureau)
• About twice as many young women were childfree in the year 2000 as in the 1950s (source: Ralph Fevre, The Guardian, Manchester, March 26, 2001)
• In the US, 82% of women ages 40-44 are mothers. This compares to 90% in 1976. (source: US Census Bureau)
• In Utah and Alaska, women on the average will have three children before the end of their childbearing years. Overall, the average in the United States is two. (source: US Census Bureau)
• In 2002, 55% of American women with infant children were in the workforce, compared to 31% in 1976, and down from 59% in 1998. In 2002, there were 5.4 million stay-at-home mothers in the US. (source: US Census Bureau)
Founder Anna Jarvis used carnations at the first Mother’s Day celebration because carnations were her mother’s favorite flower.
- Wearing a white carnation is to honor a deceased mother, wearing a pink carnation is to honor a living mother.