Mother's Day

Celebrations of mothers and motherhood can be traced back to the and Greeks and Romans, who held festivals in honor of the mother goddesses Rhea and Cybele, but the clearest modern precedent for Mother’s Day is the early Christian festival known as “Mothering Sunday.” Once a major tradition in the United Kingdom and parts of Europe, this celebration fell on the fourth Sunday in Lent and was originally seen as a time when the faithful would return to their “mother church”—the main church in the vicinity of their home—for a special service.

Mother's Day was originally a day for women to protest against war. Social activist Julia Ward Howe first brought the idea of Mother's Day to the United States after the Civil War, but Howe's version was much different from the flowers-and-hugs version we know today. Howe wrote the Mother's Day Proclamation and envisioned a Mother's Day for Peace, in which women would protest against war. Some groups still observe the holiday in this manner; one of the most famous being a huge crowd of women who gathered outside the Lawrence Livermore Library at the University of California in 1982 to protest nuclear weapons.

The current version of Mother's Day was started by Anna Jarvis in the early 1900s. Jarvis got Congress to recognize the holiday, founded the Mother's Day International Association and even trademarked the phrases "Mother's Day" and "second Sunday in May." Jarvis was inspired by her own mother, who had called for "Mothers Work Days" to improve conditions for soldiers on both sides during the Civil War.

President Woodrow Wilson made Mother's Day an official holiday in 1914. After he was persuaded by Anna Jarvis, President Woodrow Wilson officially declared that the second Sunday of every May would be Mother’s Day. In his first Mother's Day proclamation, Wilson stated that the holiday offered a chance to “[publicly express] our love and reverence for the mothers of our country."

More phone calls are made on Mother’s Day than any other day of the year. These holiday chats with Mom often cause phone traffic to spike by as much as 37 percent.

According to Hallmark, Mother's Day is the third-largest card-selling holiday in the United States — about 113 million cards are exchanged each year.