Why is Mother’s Day Celebrated on the Second Sunday of May?
Mother’s Day is an international holiday that’s honored in multiple countries, but have you ever considered why it’s celebrated on Sunday? At least in America? While not a public holiday, Mother’s Day is regarded as one of the most important and profitable celebrations of the year. Let’s look at a few facts surrounding this holiday, like why we celebrate it and who invented it.
The Brief History of Mother’s Day
Although the holiday probably started in Ancient Greece, it has no connection to Mother’s Day in the United States. The US version of the celebration was accidentally set in motion when Mrs. Juliet Calhoun Blakely stepped to the pulpit and took over a church service. Her sons were so moved that they intended to honor that day (Sunday 11 May 1877) and other Mothers as well.
However, Mother’s Day, as Americans know of it today, technically dates back to 1908. Anna Jarvis wanted to honor her Mother, a suffragette who fought for the rights of Mothers and women everywhere. The holiday started in Grafton, West Virginia, and plenty of people wanted to join in on the celebration, which included giving Moms flowers and gifts.
Giving Roses for Mothers’ Day
For centuries, motherhood has been synonymous with plants, springtime, and fertility. Although any flower can be given, Mother’s Day roses are often the gift of choice for anyone who wants to give praise to their Moms. Roses are symbols of love, romance, gratitude, admiration, joy, friendship, innocence, and purity. Their meaning is primarily determined by color.
There are other popular Mother’s Day flowers other than the roses, including these:
- Carnations: Official flower of Mother’s Day
- Daisies: Represents sweetness and innocence
- Lisianthus: Symbolizes elegance
- Lilies: Plenty of colors and endless variety
- Anthuriums: Waxy pedaled flowers that live for months
- Orchids: Those with exotic tastes love these beauties
- Tulips: Comes in every color and lasts a long time
- Hydrangeas: Easy to find but lush and large
- Gladiolus: Stands for honor, strength, and faithfulness
Feel free to give your Mother any flower she’s sure to enjoy or purchase a bouquet.
The Birth of a Holiday: 1907-1914
In 1907, Anna Jarvis began a movement to create a national Mother’s Day, so she began writing to ministers, politicians, and businessmen. The first Mother’s Day observance was celebrated in a church on the second Sunday of May. Anna handed out white carnations, her Mother’s favorite flower, to all the Mothers in the church.
By 1908 Mother’s Day was celebrated in Philadelphia in most churches, but by 1911 the holiday had spread nationwide in almost every state in the current US union.
In 1914, President Wilson proclaimed that the second Sunday in May would become “Mother’s Day,” a national holiday that continues to this day.
Not All Countries Celebrate Mother’s Day in May
Although most countries that celebrate Mother’s Day observe the holiday on the second Sunday of every May (35/50), many of them don’t. Russia observes Mother’s Day in November, while Argentina celebrates in October. Only 3 countries don’t celebrate Mother’s Day on a Sunday: Thailand on a Thursday and Georgia and Poland on a Wednesday.
Mother’s Day in Modern Times
In over 100 years, Mother’s Day has transformed into an increasingly popular gift-giving and card writing holiday, which upset Anna Jarvis. She felt that the original sentiment of the holiday was being sacrificed for greed and profit, which is the ultimate fate of most celebrations.
Mother’s Day is the third most commercially successful holiday in the United States behind Winter holidays and back-to-school. Consumers are expected to spend more than they ever have on their Mothers. In 2020, the average person spent over $200 per person on Mother’s Day, which is considered high considering the job losses that occurred last year.
Interestingly, the amount spent is expected to go up at about $5-$10 a year, every single year. As of 2020, $25 billion was spent on our mothers and that number is also expected to rise as more women become mothers and to keep up with inflation.