Mother’s Day is a holiday in several nations around the world, celebrated in the United States, Canada, and several other countries on the second Sunday in May, to celebrate motherhood. Other countries use different dates (see <a href=“#Date” class=‘internal’ title ="">#Date). Often the mother receives gifts.
Mother’s Day in the United States was first proclaimed in 1870 in Boston by Julia Ward Howe, and Howe called for it to be observed each year nationally in 1872. As originally envisioned, Howe’s “Mother’s Day” was a call for Pacifism and disarmament by women. Early “Mother’s Day” was mostly marked by women’s peace groups. A common early activity was the meeting of groups of mothers whose sons had fought or died on opposite sides of the American Civil War.
The first known observance of Mother’s Day in the U.S. occurred in Albion, Michigan on May 13, 1877, the second Sunday of the month. According to local legend, Albion pioneer, Juliet Calhoun Blakeley, stepped up to complete the sermon of the Rev. Myron Daughterty, who was distraught because an anti-temperance group had forced his son and two other temperance advocates to spend the night in a saloon and become publicly drunk. In the pulpit, Blakeley called on other mothers to join her. Blakeley’s two sons, both travelling salesmen, were so moved that they vowed to return each year to pay tribute to her and embarked on a campaign to urge their business contacts to do likewise. At their urging, in the early 1880s, the Methodist Episcopal Church in Albion set aside the second Sunday in May to recognize the special contributions of mothers.
In 1907 Mother’s Day was first celebrated in a small private way by Anna Jarvis in Grafton, West Virginia, to commemorate the anniversary of her mother’s death two years earlier on May 9, 1905. Jarvis’s mother, also named Anna Jarvis, had been active in Mother’s Day campaigns for peace and worker’s safety and health. The younger Jarvis launched a quest to get wider recognition of Mother’s Day. The celebration organized by Jarvis on May 10, 1908 involved 407 children with their mothers at the Andrew’s Methodist Episcopal Church in Grafton (this church is now the International Mother’s Day Shrine). Grafton, West Virginia is the place recognized as the birthplace of Mother’s Day. The following campaign to recognize Mother’s Day was financed by clothing merchant John Wanamaker. As the custom of Mother’s Day spread, the emphasis shifted from the pacificism and reform movements to a general appreciation of mothers. The first official recognition of the holiday was by West Virginia in 1910. A proclamation designating the second Sunday in May as Mother’s Day was signed by U.S. president Woodrow Wilson on May 14, 1914.
A tradition calls for the wearing of carnations on Mother’s Day—a red one if one’s mother is alive, and white if she has died.
The second Sunday of May will fall on the following dates in the next few years:
- 2004: May 9
- 2005: May 8
- 2006: May 14
- 2007: May 13
- 2008: May 11
- 2009: May 10
- 2010: May 9
Most countries have this day in May, often on a Sunday.
- Denmark, Finland, Italy, Turkey, Australia, Belgium, Japan, Taiwan, United States: the second Sunday in May
- much of South America (as well as Mexico), Bahrain, Hong Kong, India, Malaysia, Oman, Pakistan, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Singapore, United Arab Emirates: May 10
- South Africa, Spain, Portugal, Hungary: first Sunday in May
- France, Sweden: last Sunday in May
- Norway: the second Sunday in February
- Poland: May 26
- Lebanon: first day of Spring
- Argentina: the second Sunday in October
- Thailand: August 12, birthday of Queen Sirikit
- United Kingdom : Mother’s Day, formally Mothering Sunday, is the fourth Sunday in Lent, and its origin is unrelated to the US Mother’s Day
See also: Father’s Day