A celebration that honors motherhood, Mother’s Day takes place every year around the world on different dates. It is observed on the second Sunday of May in the United States, where its origins lie in the efforts of a West Virginia woman to celebrate the good deeds of her late mother.
How Mother’s Day started in the United States
At the beginning of the 20th Century, Anna Jarvis wished to commemorate her mother Ann Jarvisan activist who cared for wounded soldiers in the American Civil War and started women’s groups to promote health and friendship.
On May 12, 1907, the second anniversary of Ann’s death, Jarvis held a memorial service at his mother’s church in Grafton, West Virginia, and continued to campaign for Mother’s Day to be installed as an annual celebration in the United States. In 1914, President Woodrow Wilson signed an executive order proclaim the second Sunday in May as Mother’s Day.
Initially, white carnations – Ann’s favorite flower – were distributed on Mother’s Day in the United States, before today’s tradition of giving cards, flowers and gifts has taken over. This led Jarvis to become so disenchanted with the commercialization of the party that she fought unsuccessfully to have it abolished.
Mother’s Day around the world
Many countries around the world – about 100 – have followed the example of the United States to celebrate Mother’s Day on the second Sunday in May. Many others opted for a different date, for various reasons.
In the UK and Ireland, for example, Mother’s Day is on the fourth Sunday of Lent. – the period of 40 working days preceding the Christian religious holiday of Easter. It’s because their modern, secular Mother’s Day stems from the religious celebration Mothering Sunday, which began in the Middle Ages. On Mother’s Sunday, Christians would visit their “mother,” or primary, church. Due to its association with Easter, the date of Mother’s Day in the UK and Ireland can vary widely.
There is also religious significance in date selection from other countries. In Panama, as in the United Kingdom, a predominantly Christian country, Mother’s Day is December 8, coinciding with the feast of the Immaculate Conception.
There are also countries that have chosen to tie their Mother’s Day to a specific date of national significance. In Bolivia, Mother’s Day commemorates the Heroínas de la Coronilla, a group of women who, on May 27, 1812, fought in the Battle of Pocona during the Bolivian War of Independence. In Thailand, we celebrate August 12, the birthday of Sirikit Kitikayara, the Thai Queen Mother.
In some countries, during this time, Mother’s Day is scheduled to coincide with International Women’s Dayheld on March 8.