Why Mother’s Day Isn’t All Flowers and Brunches – The History, Numbers and Trivia of the Holiday

Ever been curious how the holiday for moms came along? We have the story and much more.
Celebrating Mother’s Day with the family is a tradition that dates back centuries.
What gifts are hot? Which color flowers should I buy? Who invented this holiday? Here come the answers. Pixabay

Every season has its signs. Pumpkin-flavored beverages show up a month before Halloween. Pilgrim salt-and-pepper shakers dot Publix commercials each November before Thanksgiving. And Christmas? Heck, there are dozens of businesses around Florida where trees, wreaths, garlands and all the trimmings are available every month of the year. But what about Mother’s Day?

Your grocery store probably has doubled its offerings of flowers for the past week. If you haven’t made a reservation for a meal on Sunday, it’s probably too late now. And dozens of little kids are getting lessons from Dad on how to make pancakes for Mom to surprise her that morning.

Still, there’s much more to know about Mother’s Day – the actual holiday – so let’s get started.

Is Mother’s Day a Pagan Holiday?

Scared you with that question, didn’t I? The truth is there’s a bit of a pagan-esque background to the annual event. Many civilizations have days devoted to mothers. In Ancient Greece, celebrations honored Rhea, the mother of gods. In Rome, worship was directed to Cybele, the mother of goddesses.

Fast-forward to 17th century England when “Mothering Sunday” was held on the fourth Sunday of Lent. Yes, there were pancakes finally! But these were made from peas and served with salt and pepper. Yuck.

Roots of the Modern Mother’s Day

Historians are in agreement that the American version of Mother’s Day has its roots in the works of Ann Reeves Jarvis, a West Virginian who in the mid-1800s created Mothers’ Day Work Clubs to teach fellow women how to care for their children.

The clubs would endure the Civil War and are credited with promoting reconciliation between the South and the North.

At about the same time, an abolitionist named Julia Ward Howe campaigned for a Mother’s Peace Day to be held each June 2.

It was actually the daughter of Ann Reeves Jarvis – Anna Jarvis – who successfully campaigned for a formal designation of Mother’s Day after the passing of her mother in 1905. The event would be officially established by President Woodrow Wilson in 1914.

Most Popular Gifts for Mother’s Day

In case you’re wondering if your annual gift to mom is a little boring or generic, here’s the scoop. According to RetailMeNot, the top Mother’s Day gifts in 2022 – aside from flowers – were:

  • Flowers: 47%
  • Chocolate: 36%
  • Gift Cards: 29%
  • Dinner: 26%
  • Jewelry: 22%
  • Beauty products: 19%

Spending on Mother’s Day gifts is also trending up. RetailMeNot says the average shopper spent $134 on Mother’s Day in 2022, up from $120 in 2021 and $97 in 2020.

In 2023, consumers are expected to spend $274.02 per person, the highest in the history of Mother’s Day surveys, according to the National Retail Federation.

Here are some other factoids about Mother’s Day, according to Town and Country Magazine:

  • More phone calls are made on Mother’s Day – about 122 million – than any other day of the year.
  • Mother’s Day is the third highest-selling day for flowers, after Christmas and Hanukkah. One-quarter of all flowers purchased during the year are for Mother’s Day. Wow.
  • Nearly 50 percent of people celebrate Mother’s Day by going to a restaurant, according to the National Restaurant Association.
  • Flower color is important on Mother’s Day, particularly with carnations. A red carnation denotes a mom still living. A white one means she has passed.

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