Herstory In The Know

7 Mother’s Day Facts

  1. Mother’s Day vs. Mothers’ Day?

A precursor to Mother’s Day was Mothers’ Day (Note the apostrophe placement!) This day was conceived by the abolitionist and suffragette Julia Ward Howe. After witnessing the mass death from the Civil War and the Franco-Prussian War, Howe believed that it was time to take political control from men who had allowed such bloodshed. As Heather Cox Richardson notes “Mothers’ Day was not designed to encourage people to be nice to their mothers. It was part of women’s effort to gain power to change modern society.” In 1873, Howe pushed to have “Mother’s Peace Day” celebrated annually on June 2nd.

2. Mother’s Friendship Day

During the same time, Ann Reeves Jarvis organized a “Mother’s Friendship Day” after the Civil War. The purpose of the day was to begin reconciliation between former Union and Confederate soldiers by having them come together, along with mothers from both sides.

3. The Campaign for a Holiday

Ann Reeves Jarvis’ daughter, Anna Jarvis began campaigning for Mother’s Day in 1905, when her mother passed away. Anna believed that each mother should be celebrated by their family. After much lobbying, Woodrow Wilson declared every second Sunday in May “Mother’s Day” and an official holiday in 1914.

4. Commercialization

As Mother’s Day gained popularity, it also became commercialized, with flower and card companies benefiting greatly. This infuriated Anna Jarvis, as she believed it defeated the purpose of the holiday. In her mind, Mother’s Day was suppose to be about the individual connection between mother and child. She spent the rest of her life lobbying to have the holiday removed and spent her own money in lawsuits against companies who profited from the day.

5. Don’t forget the flowers!

Mother’s Day is the third highest-selling holiday for flowers and plants.  Approximately one-quarter of all the flowers purchased in the US throughout the year are bought for Mother’s Day….sorry Anna!

6. Hold the Phone!

More phone calls are made on Mother’s Day in the U.S. than any other day of the year. Phone traffic can rise by 37 percent on Mom’s special day.

7. Mama, Mama

The name ‘Mom’ comes from babies. The first sound a baby can make is ‘ma’. This is why in many languages Mother begins with the letter ‘M’.

Featured photo by Kelvin Octa

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