mother's day in the us

Mother’s Day in the US: Tradition and Global Influence

Celebrated annually, Mother’s Day in the U.S. is more than just cards and flowers. This article delves into its origins, traditions, criticisms, and more.

The Origin of Mother’s Day


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The holiday we recognize as Mother’s Day in the U.S. is rooted deeply in the tireless efforts of Anna Jarvis and her mother, Ann Reeves Jarvis. Anna’s mother was a social activist who organized “Mother’s Day Work Clubs,” aimed at improving health and cleanliness in communities. After her mother’s death in 1905, Anna was inspired to create a day that would honor the sacrifices mothers make for their children.

Anna Jarvis embarked on a letter-writing campaign to newspapers and politicians advocating the adoption of Mother’s Day as an official holiday. She organized the first official Mother’s Day celebration in 1908 at a Methodist church in Grafton, West Virginia. The event was financed by clothing retailer John Wanamaker, who saw the commercial potential in the holiday.

Jarvis’ efforts culminated in President Woodrow Wilson formally announcing the second Sunday of May as Mother’s Day in 1914. However, it’s important to note that Jarvis’ vision was one of sentiment and not commercialization — a vision that she would later feel was compromised.

Traditions and Celebrations


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Mother’s Day in the U.S. is traditionally a celebration rich in sentiment and affection, even though how it’s celebrated can differ widely among families. One popular tradition is giving mothers flowers. Roses are often the go-to choice, but carnations hold a special place as well; Anna Jarvis herself distributed 500 white carnations at the first Mother’s Day celebration.

Gifts range from the simple and handmade to the elaborate and expensive. Children often create their own cards or crafts as tokens of their love. Jewelry and electronic gadgets are also popular gifts for the modern mom.

Special meals, whether it’s breakfast in bed or a grand dinner feast, are another cornerstone of the holiday. Many families also go out to eat, making Mother’s Day one of the busiest days of the year for restaurants.

Religious services are also common. Many churches hold special services to honor mothers, complete with sermons, hymns, and prayers focused on motherhood and its myriad challenges and joys.

Criticisms and Controversies


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Despite the widespread love and respect that is poured into Mother’s Day, the holiday isn’t without its criticisms. Ironically, much of the criticism can be traced back to Anna Jarvis, the very person who campaigned for the holiday’s creation. Jarvis grew increasingly disturbed by the commercialization of the holiday, believing that the original sentiment of appreciation and love was being overshadowed by profit.

Jarvis went so far as to file lawsuits against groups that used the name “Mother’s Day” for commercial purposes. She also protested at a Mother’s Day celebration in New York, was arrested for disturbing the peace, and spent the latter part of her life trying to remove the holiday from the calendar.

Furthermore, there’s an ongoing debate that the day serves as a one-time pass for people to show appreciation for their mothers, sidelining the idea that mothers should be valued and celebrated every day of the year. Critics argue that one day is hardly sufficient to express the lifelong gratitude that mothers deserve.

Comparisons with Other Countries


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Mother’s Day in the U.S. might seem like a universally recognized event, but when you venture beyond American borders, you’ll find a variety of different celebrations honoring motherhood.

In the United Kingdom, the event is called “Mothering Sunday” and it occurs on the fourth Sunday during the Lent season. This holiday has religious origins and was traditionally a day for the faithful to visit their ‘mother church.’ Over time, it evolved to become more similar to the American Mother’s Day, focused on honoring and gifting mothers.

In Mexico, “Día de las Madres” is celebrated on May 10th, regardless of the day of the week it falls on. This celebration often includes serenades by mariachi bands. In Thailand, Mother’s Day coincides with the birthday of Queen Sirikit and is celebrated in August. It’s a day filled with ceremonies and parades.

Australia observes it similarly to the U.S., with breakfast in bed and carnations being traditional, but they also have a chrysanthemum as a popular flower for the day, as it is in season and its name ends in ‘mum,’ a common affectionate term for mother in Australia.

These diverse traditions highlight how different cultures have adopted their own unique ways to honor mothers, demonstrating that the love and respect for mothers is a universal sentiment.

Interesting Mother’s Day Facts


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As familiar as the holiday seems, there are plenty of intriguing tidbits that most people might not know about Mother’s Day.

  • The most popular gift for Mother’s Day in the U.S. is a greeting card. According to statistics, approximately 152 million Mother’s Day cards are sent each year, making it the third-largest card-sending holiday in the United States.
  • Telecom companies witness a significant surge in traffic on this day. Mother’s Day ranks among the busiest days for phone calls, as many take the time to reconnect with their mothers, making it a lucrative day for telecommunications businesses.
  • While the modern incarnation of Mother’s Day began in the early 20th century, the concept of setting aside a day to honor mothers dates back to ancient civilizations. The Greeks and Romans held festivals to honor mother goddesses, and early Christian celebrations had a day known as “Mothering Sunday,” which has evolved into a different holiday altogether.
  • Another lesser-known fact is that the original Mother’s Day proclamation by President Woodrow Wilson was actually a call for a day of solemn reflection and a “public expression of our love and reverence for the mothers of our country,” rather than a day for commercial activities.

These interesting facts add nuance to the common perceptions of Mother’s Day, illustrating its rich history and varied interpretations.


Mother’s Day in the U.S. serves as a reminder of the invaluable role mothers play in our lives. While there are criticisms and controversies, the core essence remains — honoring and appreciating mothers. It’s a day that, irrespective of how it’s celebrated, leaves an indelible impact on our hearts.

AboutCorinne Switzer

Corinne is an avid reader and takes a keen interest in conspiracy theories. When not busy with her day job, she likes to indulge the writer in her and pens columns on a wide range of topics that cover everything from entertainment, healthy living to healthcare and more.