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Healthy Living

Mother's Day: A History

By Beth Battaglino, RN-C, CEO of boutron, Women's Health Expert

Created: 04/22/2015
Last Updated: 04/22/2015

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We all know our moms are special, but Anna Jarvis wanted society as a whole to give moms their due. As a result, on the second Sunday in May, children around the country honor their moms in ways ranging from a simple homemade card to a weekend spa retreat.

Though we may celebrate in many ways—and we'd love to hear about your favorite Mother's Day tradition—Anna Jarvis preferred to keep it simple.

Mother's Day history

After her mother died, Anna began working to create Mother's Day. In 1910, she succeeded, when her home state, West Virginia, set aside a day to honor mothers and became the first state to officially recognize the holiday.

Anna's mother, Ann Reeves Jarvis, worked as a health and peace activist, caring for wounded soldiers on both sides of the Civil War. She reached out to other women after the war in an effort to unite the Union and Confederate soldiers with Mother's Friendship Day picnics and other events. That was just one of her many ways to help people.

To address public health issues, she created a series of women's organizations groups, called Mother's Day Work Clubs. These groups raised money for medicine; hired women to work for families whose mothers suffered from tuberculosis; and worked to lower infant mortality by fighting disease and inspecting bottled milk and food. Jarvis forged on, despite the loss of eight of her 12 children, who never made it to adulthood.

But less than a decade after the national designation of Mother's Day in 1914, Anna Jarvis began fighting to have it rescinded. She resented its commercialization. Her initial intention to encourage people to write personal letters expressing gratitude and love was thwarted by manufactured cards and gifts.

Here we are, many years later, and the holiday has dug in its heels and is still celebrated. Cards, candy, flowers and gifts abound. Although the celebrations that take place on the second Sunday of May each year are not exactly what Anna Jarvis had in mind, many mothers and their families appreciate and enjoy the holiday.

It's nice to be reminded of how much you love and appreciate your mother, and it's heartwarming to know how much your children appreciate you.

The commercial side

It's hard to argue that Mother's Day has been commercialized when you consider that in 2014, it was estimated that Americans spent a total of $19.9 billion in celebration of the holiday. On the flip side, many mothers are happy just to get breakfast in bed and a day of relaxation—their only responsibility being to sit back and be pampered for a full day. No worries about cooking, shopping, cleaning … pure bliss.

Still, gift giving is a tradition. According to a 2014 National Retail Federation survey, Americans will spend an average of $162.94 on their mothers this year. Wondering how the whopping total of nearly $19.9 billion dollars is doled out?

  • $3.8 billion—special outings like brunch or dinner
  • $3.6 billion—jewelry
  • $2.3 billion—flowers
  • $1.7 billion—apparel and accessories
  • $1.5 billion—personal experience gifts (like a day at a spa)
  • $812 million—housewares or gardening tools
  • $480 million—books and CDS

If you are planning to give a gift this Mother's Day, here are some .

Tell us: What is your favorite thing about Mother's Day?


I love to spend the day with my husband and daughters doing whatever I want to do! They usually serve me breakfast on the deck, followed by going to church together. After that we often walk through the botanical gardens or the zoo, sometimes followed by a stop at the garden shop to get me some plants for the garden or pots. Then I usually read a while as they prepare dinner, and, again, we eat on the deck. I guess it's obvious I enjoy being with my family and being outdoors!

It's a wonderful way to pay a tribute to the mothers as the way they think and work can never be replenished or recovered. they can only be loved in return.

Although I do think every day should be Mother's Day, I do enjoy this very special day, which reminds me what a wonderful gift my children are!

I am so happy to discover your post about Mother's Day. This is very interesting and informative story. You can be sure - as it will become a top of my collection of favorite blogs to visit as usually I get valuable information from . Many thanks and please keep it up.


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