History of Mother’s Day

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mother and son at blackboard

It’s hard to imagine that there was ever a time people didn’t devote the second Sunday of May to celebrating their mothers. But that was exactly the case before May 9, 1914.

Enter Woodrow Wilson. On that day, the nation’s president signed a bill recognizing Mother’s Day as a national holiday. Flash forward 100 years later, and the special day has become ingrained into our society as a positive affirmation of love and appreciation for moms everywhere.

How exactly did Mother’s Day get its start? What led to the calling for Wilson to mark the day with an official holiday?


The History

According the National Women’s History Project, writer Julia Ward Howe first suggested the need for a Mother’s Day to be implemented into the United States’ culture.

She did so in 1872, calling for mothers to rally together for peace. She even put together an annual Mother’s Day meeting in Boston for moms everywhere to gather.

A few decades later, Anna Jarvis began a nationwide campaign for observance of Mother’s Day. Jarvis was interested in honoring her late mother, who was a community health advocate.


Mothers’ Day Today

The holiday has gradually become one of the nation’s most popular holidays, and one to which retailers look forward every year.

The National Retail Federation estimated that American consumers spent more than $20 billion on Mother’s Day in 2013. Here’s how that massive number breaks down, according to the NRF:

•  141 million Mother’s Day cards are exchanged annually in the U.S.

•  Each consumer purchases an average of 2.8 Mother’s Day cards.

•  Approximately 65 perfect of card sales occur in the five days before Mother’s Day.

• More people purchase fresh flowers and plants for Mother’s Day than for any other holiday
except Christmas.

•  Mother’s Day accounts for one-fourth of all holiday sales of flowers and plants.

• The average American spends $168 per year on Mother’s Day.