Tomorrow, Sunday, May 8, most Americans will celebrate Mother’s Day. Notice the singular possessive form of spelling. This is the standard and generally accepted usage. It was the format favored by Anna Jarvis, the acknowledged driving force behind the creation of the holiday, as you will see below, rather than the plural possessive. Her point was each family should honor “the best mother, yours” rather than all mothers.
MD is celebrated all over the world in some form. Different countries have their own way of celebrating the day and even celebrate it on different dates. Some countries have replicated the US traditions – hallmark [or email (tacky)] card, flowers, chocolates, and family gatherings; others have incorporated it into other holidays honoring women or mothers; and in still others, a combination of the two has evolved.
According to The National Restaurant Association based on decades of research MD is the busiest day of the year for restaurants. The traditional custom is to give mom a break from kitchen duties and take her out to a nice restaurant to celebrate. And why not? Doesn’t she deserve it? (On the other hand, on Father’s Day the restaurants are relatively empty as many fathers are put to work barbecuing.) Can you name the second-busiest day of the year for restaurants according to the same survey? See answer below.
Moreover, MD is the third busiest day for attendance at church. Can you guess numbers one and two? See below.
According to “RetailMeNot” the average MD gift this year will cost $134, compared to $120 last year. Greeting cards are the most popular MD gift followed by flowers, chocolate and gift cards. According to the National Retail Federation in 2022 we will spend some $32 billion on MD gifts, which will exceed last year’s amount by some $3.6 billion.
This year there is a flower shortage in many parts of the US due to inclement weather and shipping inefficiencies, so I hope you did not wait for the last minute to order them. Apparently, a goodly portion of flowers originate in South America, which has complicated matters.
As always, traffic on the roads will likely be heavy during the holiday weekend. So, plan to leave early, and use your trusty GPS. Additionally, one can expect the usual delays at the airports due to weather complications, security concerns and heavy usage.
In the US MD was first celebrated in 1908 when the aforementioned Anna Jarvis held a special memorial for her mother. Ms. Jarvis had been campaigning for the country to recognize a day to honor mothers since 1905 when her mother had passed away. In 1914 President Woodrow Wilson signed an official proclamation establishing the second Sunday in May as MD. It was to be a day to honor mothers and the concept of motherhood and their contributions to society.
Eventually, Ms. Jarvis became disillusioned with the commercialization of the holiday. By the 1920’s the greeting card, retail, candy and flower industries were all marketing their products aggressively to take advantage of the holiday. Jarvis strongly advocated that people should demonstrate their love and respect for their mothers through personalized, handwritten letters instead. Being a person of action she organized protests and threatened boycotts of these industries. At one point, she was arrested for disturbing the peace at a candy manufacturers’ convention.
Despite her efforts, commercialization of the day has continued to grow. Americans, in particular, tend to demonstrate their love in tangible, material ways through the giving of gifts.
As I stated, MD is celebrated in many countries in different ways and at different dates. For example:
1. The most common date is the second Sunday in May, which is May 8 this year. Besides the US, some of the countries that celebrate it on this date are Canada, Italy the Peoples Republic of China and Turkey.
2. Some countries, such as the UK, Ireland and Nigeria, celebrate it on the fourth Sunday of Lent. The UK incorporated it into a previously existing holiday called “Mothering Sunday.” ”Mothering Sunday” dates from the 16th Century.
3. Many Arab countries, such as Egypt, Iraq, and Saudi Arabia celebrate it on the vernal equinox (March 20 in 2022).
4. Russia used to celebrate MD on March 8 in conjunction with International Women’s Day, but in 1998 the date was changed, by law, to the last Sunday in November.
5. Bolivia celebrates it on May 27, which is the date of an historically significant battle in which women played a key role.
6. Since 1950 France has celebrated MD on the fourth Sunday in May, except when the date conflicts with Pentecost in which case it is delayed to the next Sunday.
7. Hindus celebrate MD on the new moon day in the month of Baisakh (April/May).
As I said, MD is one of the few truly internationally-recognized holidays. One of the charming features of the day is the variety of ways and dates on which it is celebrated. This is derived from the differences in customs and cultures around the world.
One thing is certain now and will remain so prospectively: on this day the mother/wife is truly in charge. Men, remember the adage “happy wife, happy life.”
Finally, men, all together now, let’s repeat the two-word mantra for a successful marriage:
Quiz answers: (1) Valentine’s Day. (2) Christmas Eve and Easter.