The average consumer in America is planning to spend nearly $100 for Mother’s Day, most likely to shower his or her mom with gifts, flowers and candy. Mothers have been honored in this way throughout history. During the 1600s, for instance, England celebrated a day called “Mothering Sunday.” Traditionally, it was a day when children who worked as servants were given a day off to visit home. They would bring special cakes to their mothers, who then would give blessings to their children.
The custom was called “going a-mothering.” Today, many countries around the world — including Mexico, China, Turkey, Finland and Russia, to name a few — have special celebrations to honor mothers. Here are some facts you may not know about Mother’s Day here in America. In the early 1850s, Anna Reese Jarvis, an Appalachian homemaker who never married, organized a day to raise awareness of poor health conditions in her community. She believed this cause would be best advocated by mothers and called the event “Mothers’ Work Day.” In 1905, after Jarvis’ death, her daughter, also named Anna, began a campaign to memorialize her mother’s work.
She lobbied prominent businessmen and politicians, including Presidents William Taft and Theodore Roosevelt, to support her campaign to create a special day to honor mothers. She hoped Mother’s Day would increase respect for parents and strengthen family bonds. The first Mother’s Day observances were in church services honoring the elder Jarvis in Grafton, W. Va., and Philadelphia on May 10, 1908. By 1911, every state held its own Mother’s Day observance. Then, on May 8, 1914, President Woodrow Wilson signed a bill recognizing Mother’s Day as a national holiday.
As Mother’s Day became more commercialized, however, Jarvis became upset, and even was arrested for disturbing the peace at a convention for a war mother’s group. Before her death in 1948, Jarvis is said to have confessed that she regretted ever starting the Mother’s Day tradition. Most Americans are glad she did, however, and they have been thinking of creative and fun ways to honor their mothers ever since.
Whitman’s Chocolates, founded in Philadelphia in 1842, became one of the first confectioners to provide Mother’s Day assortments. Its stores were crowded each year with people looking for just the right Mother’s Day assortment. Many chose its famous Whitman’s Sampler of fine chocolates. Today, the Whitman’s Sampler remains one of the most popular gifts given on Mother’s Day, with one sold every 1.5 seconds in the United States.