What is Mother's Day: Origins, History & Celebrations

Mother's day isn't a popular tradition formed by moms because they want all the attention. Yes, they deserve the appreciation and celebrations that come with the tradition, however, it wasn't established by them.

There's a lot of controversy concerning the concept of mother's day, including the origins of mother's day.

To establish world peace we'd satisfy your curiosity and explain in detail all about how the mother's day holiday began and its importance.

What is Mother’s Day?

What is Mother’s Day?

The official mother's day celebration is a day designed to honor mothers or any motherly figure in your life.

Mother's day is celebrated in honor of motherhood to sisters, wives, and grandmothers for their matchless service.

Mother's day event is celebrated across the world, and there's usually an official holiday for it.

Why Do We Celebrate Mother's Day?

Mother's day celebration is a day specially selected to honor mothers. It's celebrated as a form of acknowledgement of their selfless love and sacrifices. The observance of mother's day is believed to be a time to treat your wife, mother or any motherly person in your life differently.

Mother's day celebrations are also to acknowledge the significant roles of mothers in the society.

Is Mother's Day Always on a Sunday?

Mothers day always occur on a Sunday, although the dates may vary from year to year, it's always celebrated on a Sunday, hence the name "Mothering Sunday".

What is The History of Mother’s Day?

What is The History of Mother’s Day?

In ancient times, traditions that involved the celebration of mothers were tied to gods and goddesses of fertility and birth.

The first celebration of motherhood started with the ancient Greeks and Romans, and this festival was held to honor Rhea, the mother goddess. Also, the Phrygians held a festival for Cybele, the mother of the Gods.

These festivals were so important that during the Lent period, people would travel down from wherever they were in the world, to visit their Mother church.

With time, the term "Mothering Sunday" came to be, because even daughters who were sent to work as slaves were always given a day off during the fourth Sunday of Lent, so they can go return home to their mother church.

On this day, both sons and daughters, come together to prepare a special dinner for their mothers, and sometimes the mothers attend a special service in church with their entire family members.

During church services, a special prayer is made to Virgin Mary, and children usually bring flowers and other gifts to pay tribute to their mothers.

Along the line, mother's day became a more secular tradition where children present gifts and other tokens to their mothers. Traditionally, a simnel cake is presented to mothers by their children.

Where Did The Tradition of Mother’s Day Come From?

Mother's day started in the times of the Romans and Ancient Greeks. In Ancient Greeks, mother's day can be dated back to the spring festival held in honor of Rhea, the mother of the Gods.

In the United Kingdom, the mother's day holiday was given so people could visit the church where they were baptized in. However, in recent years, motherhood is celebrated in a modernized way.

When Was Mother’s Day (Mothering Sunday) First Celebrated?

The first mother's day celebration was a private ceremony held in 1907, by Anna Jarvis in honor of her mother in Grafton, West Virginia.

In 1908, Anna Jarvis organized the first official mother's day celebration in a Methodist church in West Virginia.

Who Started Mother's Day and Why?

National mother's day was a movement started by three women; Ann Jarvis, Julia Howe, and Ann's daughter, Anna Jarvis.

Mother's day celebrations started as a way of honoring the sacrifices mothers made for their children.

Ann Reeves Jarvis   

Ann Reeves Jarvis known as Mother Jarvis was a young Appalachian homemaker who volunteered her time to work in the church as a Sunday school teacher. She established the mothers day work clubs in West Virginia, during the civil war to improve sanitation for soldiers and children.

Ann Jarvis organized women's brigades and advised them to attend to the wounded soldiers, regardless of what side they were supporting.

She went further to start a club that educated different groups of women on how to take better care of their children because she was concerned about the unsanitary living condition of children. These clubs became a unifying force in all the divided regions of the country.

In 1868, as a way of promoting world peace, Ann Reeves Jarvis formed "mothers friendship day" to end the rift between the Confederate soldiers and the former union.

Julia Ward Howe    

Julia Ward Howe was a poet and writer that became famous for her Civil war song, "battle hymn". She suggested that June 2nd should be added to the calendar as a day to celebrate mother's day.

Julia Ward Howe wrote a special appeal to mothers asking them to join hands with her on the mother's day proclamation movement, and this happened in Boston, in 1970.   

After that, she initiated the establishment of mother's peace day which occurred every second Sunday in June. She fought for an official holiday to be allocated to Mother's day.

Howe's version of the mother's day festival was held in Boston and other states for about 30 years until it died a natural death in the years preceding World War 1.

Anna Maria Jarvis

The history of mother's day is incomplete without Anna Jarvis.

Anna Jarvis is the recognized founder of mother's day in the United States. After Anna's mother died in 1905, she took it upon herself to continue her legacy and build it further. It was her mother's wish to someday create an official declaration of a single day specially mapped out to honor mothers and pay tributes to them.

Anna Jarvis wished that someone one day will establish a memorial mother's day commemorating her mother Ann Jarvis, for her matchless service to humanity. All Anna Jarvis wanted was to create a platform that recognized and showed appreciation to mothers for their kindness. She planned to honor her mother's lifelong activism with a memorial service, and make it a national day.

She took it upon herself to reach out to public figures and even used her personal funds to print out pamphlets to express her idea and thoughts to the public.

Anna's hard work paid off eventually, and by 1911, Mother's day was recognized in almost every state in the Union, but some people classified it as a local mother's day. She gained financial backing from a Philadelphia store owner, Wanamaker, and she organized the first mother's day in 1908 in Andrews Methodist Episcopal Church.

In 1912, Anna Jarvis quit her job and started the Mother's day international association.

In 1914, President Woodrow Wilson signed a joint resolution, stating the second Sunday in May as the official mother's day.

 Why did Anna Maria Jarvis regret creating Mother's day?

Mother's day was supposed to be a national holiday that was dedicated to celebrating mothers and nothing else. However, the huge commercialisation of mother's day made Anna Jarvis very hurt, because most people only wanted to make a gain out of the celebration.

Initially, she teamed up with florists and recommended a white carnation as the official symbolic flower for mother's day. But, sadly other florists and even charity organizations used the national celebration to make a few extra bucks, and that defeated the entire purpose of mothers day.

Mother's day is supposed to be a time to celebrate the personal relationship between children and mothers.

From 1920, Anna who was childless and unmarried her whole life fought to have mother's day removed from the calendar because of the businesses profiting off the idea of mothers day.

In 1948, she died without any penny, after using all her money for lawsuits in a bid to fight the commercialization of mothers day.

Did Mother's Day Start as an Anti-War Movement?

Yes, mother's day first started as an anti-war movement. Before Jarvis succeeded in getting the presidential proclamation of mother's day as a special day, people had in the past lobbied for the idea with a different agenda in mind.

Decades before, Julia Ward Howe campaigned to promote "Mother's Peace Day", and other activists who agreed with her including Anna's mother said that mother's day should be a time to promote unity and peace in the nation after the Franco-Prussian war and Civil war.

Howe wanted women to gather once a year in a parlor or any ideal environment and sing hymns, write poems and pray; all of these under the guise of fostering peace.

However, this idea was quickly forgotten when Anna's concept of mother's day took place.

What is the Connection Between Mothers Day and the American Civil War

Mother's day concept was from a seed Ann Reeve Jarvis sowed in 1858, a movement to help uneducated and poor mothers improve the living condition of their children. She thought them how to boil water and even preserve food for longer days.

When her movement was gaining traction, the American civil war started. She decided to take a step by not giving her support to either party. She was hellbent on mother's day club becoming a neutral ground in politics. So, with the other club members, she would feed and clothe all the soldiers without caring about what side they were fighting on.

However, the end of the Civil war didn't bring about peace, and Jarvis made another step again. She organized mothers friendship day, but with the hidden agenda of bringing together the community that had been disrupted by the war.

Eventually, "Mothers friendship day" turned into a yearly pacifist event.

Does Mother’s Day Have Any Biblical Origins and Significance?

While it's true that Mothers day does not have an explicit biblical basis, the Bible however commands us to do so, even if it doesn't give a specific date.

In the 1600s, the Church of England pushed for the idea of Mothering Sunday as a way to recognize and honor Mary, the mother of Jesus.

Sadly, this mother's day service slowly disappeared from the church calendar. Modern mother's day is still celebrated in churches today.

How is Mother’s Day Celebrated Around the World?

How is Mother’s Day Celebrated Around the World?

Every country celebrates mothers day in their unique way, and individuals also have how they celebrate their own mother.

For some families, it's a day of presenting mothers with small gifts and putting phone calls across to their maternal figures. It all boils down to gratitude and efforts in wanting to make mothers happy.

Mother's day is celebrated across 46 countries, although on different dates. Let's look at a few;

United States

In the United States, mother's day is celebrated on the second Sunday in May, and as many people know, this was officially established by Anna Jarvis in 1908, as a way to honor her own mother who had passed away.

As mother's day gained more popularity, creating gift cards became the norm. White carnation flowers became a symbol of mother's day too because it was Anna's mother favorite.

Why Mother’s Day in the U.S. is in May?  

 In 1907, on May 10th, Anna held a memorial service for her mother at a methodist church in Grafton, West Virginia.

The following year on the same day, a church service was observed to honor all mothers both deceased and alive. That's where the concept of celebrating mothering Sunday was birthed.

Then in 1914, a designated bill was signed by President Woodrow Wilson, where he declared the second Sunday in May as mother's day and a legal holiday.

Is mother's day a national holiday?

In the United States, mother's day is a national holiday and not a public holiday. Businesses and stores can go on with their activities on this day, just like any other Sunday in the year.

United Kingdom

In the UK, mother's day falls on the fourth Sunday during Christian Lent.

The date for mother's day changes every year, although it's no longer treated like a very religious celebration.

Costa Rica

Mother's day in Costa Rica is always largely celebrated, and this holiday falls on the 15th of August every year.

The majority of Costa Rica citizens are Catholic, hence why their mother's day date is the same as the Catholic feast for the Blessed Virgin Mary.

It's always a special day to celebrate motherhood, as families from all over are invited to enjoy a huge feast and gift their moms flowers, greeting cards and other gifts to celebrate the occasion.


Ethiopia's celebration of mother's day is entirely different from other countries in the world. Their festivities last for three days with songs and food, and it starts after the rainy season is over.

It occurs in either October or November, depending on the weather that year.

Families usually gather for what's called the "Antrosht festival" which celebrates mothers and mother Earth as well.


Mother's day is celebrated on the fourth Sunday during Lent. In Medieval times, it was a day for Irish children who worked as slaves in the homes of rich people to go back home and visit their mothers.

They usually start the day by attending a special service in honor of Mary.


In Mexico, mother's day is observed on May 10th every year. It's usually the busiest time for restaurants, as family members will gather and dine together while dancing to different songs.


In Sweden, mother's day is celebrated on the last Sunday in May. All families are expected to lift the Swedish flag outside their homes and ensure their moms have an eventful day - breakfast in bed with coffee, including gifts and flowers.


In Thailand, mother's day is celebrated on August 12th, and this is also to commemorate the birthday of Queen Sirikit.


In Hungary, mother's day falls on the first Sunday in May; and flowers and gifts are given to mothers on this day.


When Russia was still the Soviet Union, they celebrated International women's day instead of mother's day. But in 1998, the official date was given as the last Sunday in November.


In Nepal, mother's day also called Mata Tirtha Aunsi, meaning "Mother Pilgrimage New Moon" is observed on the last day of April or early May.


In Israel, mother's day is observed on a Sabbath day between January 30th to March 1st, depending on the Jewish calendar


Originally, mother's day was always observed on the 6th of March because it was the birthday of Empress Kojun. However, in 1949, it was changed to the second Sunday in May.

Do Countries From All Continents Celebrate Mother's Day?

Mother's day is celebrated across the world but not all countries celebrate mother's day.

What Religion Does Not Celebrate Mother's Day?

Jehovah Witnesses don't celebrate mother's day, and neither do they celebrate events that honor people who aren't Jesus. This includes Halloween, father's day, etc.

How to Celebrate Mother’s Day?

How to Celebrate Mother’s Day?

Celebrating one's mother is something personal, and there's no custom rule on how to do it. After all, what counts is your effort and intention.

Some mothers are satisfied with their kids taking them out for brunch to have their favorite meal.

The truth is, there are a million and one ways to celebrate mother's day. Imagine the occasion is a birthday, and invest that much effort.

Let's give you a few ideas you can implement to make your mom smile on mother's day;

  • If your mom is a green thumb, get her garden supplies and you can top it with a gift card and appreciation letters

  • Surprise her with breakfast in bed and spend the holidays together

  • Throw her a surprise party with the help of your family

  • Get her mother's gift packages from a quality brand; including chocolates if she has a sweet tooth



Mother's day is simply a day to commemorate the many ways mothers fought to make their children live better lives.

Motherhood is a big deal, so making your mom feel special on mother's day is well deserved. Show her that the efforts she made in raising you are truly appreciated.

This year mother's day falls on May 14th, so don't forget!


What is the Official Flower of Mother’s Day?

Carnations are the official flower of mother's day. Pink carnations celebrate a mother who is alive, and white carnations are to honor deceased moms.

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