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Mother's Day: Celebrating the World’s Mums

Mother's Day, a tribute to mothers and mother figures across the globe, is celebrated on the second Sunday of May in many nations.

This cherished event invites us to express our deepest gratitude for mothers' selfless acts and immeasurable contributions as they nurture and raise their children. While each family observes this day uniquely, the occasion unites us all in acknowledging mothers' fundamental role in our lives.

The essence of this celebration centers around recognizing the tireless love, dedication, and effort mums invest in their families. 

By fostering empathy and support for the ups and downs of motherhood, this particular day highlights the significance of maternal roles in our society.

Moreover, Mother's Day is a gentle reminder that our appreciation for these incredible women should extend far beyond a single day, inspiring a nurturing and enduring bond between children and their mothers all year round.

Featured in: May Awareness Months, Days & Observances

Mother’s Day History and Background

Mum and Young Child
Photo by Raju GPK on Unsplash.

Tracing the roots of Mother's Day takes us on a journey through time, beginning with ancient Greek and Roman spring festivals dedicated to honoring maternal deities like Rhea and Cybele.

In the Middle Ages, it was customary to permit those relocated to visit their home parishes and mothers on Laetare Sunday, the fourth Sunday of Lent. This practice later evolved into Mothering Sunday in Britain, which persisted well into the contemporary era. 

As years went by, Mothering Sunday tradition shifted into a more non-religious celebration where kids would offer their moms flowers and other gifts to express gratitude.

While these early celebrations laid the groundwork, the more contemporary version of the holiday, especially in the United States, is primarily a result of the unwavering dedication of Anna Jarvis, who is widely attributed with having started Mother’s Day. 

In 1868, Jarvis arranged for the celebration of Mothers' Friendship Day, an occasion designed to unite mothers of both Confederate and Union soldiers peacefully following the conclusion of the Civil War.

Slightly later, Julia Ward Howe, a suffragette, penned the Mother's Day Proclamation in 1870 to advocate for world peace and proposed that a Mother's Peace Day be commemorated in June.

The Modern Version of Mother's Day

Mothers day cards
Photo by Ijaz Rafi on Unsplash.

In 1908 Jarvis organized the first Mother's Day event in Grafton, West Virginia, to memorialize her own mother and to recognize the countless sacrifices made by mothers everywhere.

Fueled by her initial event's success and emotional impact, Jarvis tirelessly crusaded to establish Mother's Day as a recognized national holiday, establishing the Mother’s Day International Association as a focal point for her efforts.  

Her hard work and passion paid off in 1914 when President Woodrow Wilson officially proclaimed the second Sunday in May as the official Mother’s Day celebration and a day to honor mothers nationwide.

Soon after, countries worldwide adopted Mother’s Day and adapted their versions of the holiday. Many of these new celebrations widened their focus to encompass broader themes such as women's rights, peace, and social justice.

Over the years, Mother's Day has blossomed into a widely recognized tribute to mothers' indispensable roles within their families, society, and throughout history. 

Awareness of the Challenges Mother's Face

Beyond raising children, mothers provide emotional support and nurture unbreakable family bonds. While the celebration acknowledges their sacrifices and contributions, it's crucial to address the challenges mothers face daily and encourage proactive solutions.

Juggling work and family life is a daunting task for many mothers. Striving to excel in their professional and personal domains, they often feel the weight of societal expectations, pressured to be ideal caregivers and breadwinners. 

For single mothers, the hurdles multiply. They must navigate financial hardships, limited support networks, and society's stigmatizing gaze while providing for their children1.

Consider, too, the struggles of mothers in low-income communities. They often grapple with inadequate access to vital resources, such as healthcare and education for their little ones—the gender pay gap further burdens mothers, intensifying financial challenges for countless families. 

Alongside mental health concerns, including postpartum depression, these issues call for increased awareness, empathy, and support for all mothers as they guide their families through life's intricacies.

5 Important Facts About Modern Mothers

  • Mothers tirelessly devote their time and energy to unpaid labor, from childcare and household chores to providing emotional support for their families. Recognizing these often-overlooked contributions is vital to understanding their crucial role in our society.
  • Paying attention to maternal mental health is another essential aspect of the cause. A staggering number of mothers face postpartum depression, anxiety, and other mental health struggles. Many of these can be alleviated through increased awareness and support, ultimately benefiting the entire family.
  • Gender inequality casts a long shadow over mothers worldwide. By celebrating mums, we show our appreciation and promote increased access to education, healthcare, and equal opportunities for women in all facets of life.
  • The hurdles mothers encounter are not solely personal or societal; significant policy changes and programs are also necessary. Implementing paid parental leave, affordable childcare, and equal pay can foster a more supportive environment for mothers and their families.
  • Emphasizing the importance of mothers' roles is key to cultivating a more inclusive and nurturing society. With this understanding in mind, we can drive the development of policies and initiatives that address modern mothers' diverse challenges, ensuring they receive the recognition and support they deserve.

Efforts and Initiatives

In recent years, we have witnessed a surge in global and local initiatives that aim to celebrate and support mothers on Mother's Day. 

One notable effort is the Mother's Day for Peace campaign by Code Pink, a women-led peace organization. Rather than simply celebrating motherhood, this initiative revitalizes the original message by connecting it with activism and education. By raising awareness about the importance of peace, diplomacy, and non-violent solutions to conflicts, people worldwide are inspired to engage in dialogues and actions that foster peace within their communities.

Another inspiring initiative that combines the spirit of celebrating motherhood with a critical cause is the annual Mother's Day Classic in Australia. 

This event raises funds for breast cancer research by bringing families and communities together for a fun-filled day of walking or running. Moreover, the event highlights the significance of a healthy lifestyle and early detection in the fight against breast cancer.

From a broader perspective, organizations like Save the Children and Every Mother Counts work relentlessly to empower mothers globally. They strive to provide access to education, healthcare, and economic opportunities by tailoring their programs to address the unique challenges mums face in different parts of the world. 

A wealth of opportunities awaits those who wish to get involved during the awareness day or week, encouraging people from all walks of life to support the cause and make a difference. 

One of the most enjoyable ways to participate is attending local events, like charity walks, runs, or community gatherings. These lively events strengthen connections and serve as platforms for exchanging valuable information.

Volunteering at organizations that assist mothers in need, such as women's shelters, is another meaningful option. Spending time with these women offers a glimpse into their lives, allowing you to provide much-needed support and companionship. 

To further the cause, broadcasting its importance through social media is essential. Share resources, stories, and data about the challenges faced by mothers worldwide, igniting conversations that can spark change.

Fundraising is another powerful tool for supporting the cause. Get creative with bake sales, garage sales, or even silent auctions, directing the proceeds to charities focused on maternal health, education, or support services like Every Mother Counts or the International Women's Rights Action Watch.

Lastly, never underestimate the power of self-education. Delve into global issues affecting mothers, such as maternal mortality, inadequate healthcare access, and gender inequality. 

Share your knowledge with friends, family, or colleagues, inspiring them to take action and contribute to the cause.

Have a browse of our mental health quotes and equality and diversity quotes for images you can share to support awareness around some of the issues mums face. 

Celebrating With the Family

Mom and Baby
Photo by Andrae Ricketts on Unsplash.

For many, simply being with family is the perfect way to participate in Mother’s Day Celebrations. This day is a time to come together to treat our mothers with gestures and express our gratitude for the love, care, and support they have shown us. 

Spending quality time with our family, honoring and celebrating our mothers' irreplaceable role, and making them feel genuinely recognized and loved. Whether it is indulging in fun activities, cooking her favorite meals, or even presenting her with thoughtful gifts, this is the day for Mums worldwide. 

Related: Check out our guide to ethical gifts for her if you’re present shopping in time for Mother’s Day. And, we've got some information on related awareness days in our National Sons Day and National Daughters Day articles.

Conclusion

Together, we can advocate for policies safeguarding mothers and their rights and raise our voices to champion their well-being. Through these small yet meaningful actions, we can make a real difference in the lives of countless mums, ensuring that the message of love and gratitude at the heart of Mother's Day continues to resonate far and wide.

Next year, Mother’s Day is celebrated on Sunday, May 12th - mark it in your calendar so you don’t forget.

Mother's Day FAQs

1. What is the origin of Mother's Day?

Mother's Day originated in the United States in the early 20th century as a way to honor and celebrate mothers.

2. When is Mother's Day celebrated?

Mother's Day is usually celebrated on the second Sunday in May in many countries worldwide.

3. What are some common ways to celebrate Mother's Day?

Common ways to celebrate Mother's Day include giving gifts, sending cards, having a family meal, and spending quality time with your mother.

4. Are there any alternative ways to celebrate Mother's Day?

Some alternative ways to celebrate Mother's Day include donating to a charity supporting mothers or volunteering at a local organization that benefits mothers and families.

5. How can I show appreciation for my mother on Mother's Day if I can't be with her in person?

On Mother's Day, you can show appreciation for your mother by sending her a thoughtful gift, calling or video chatting with her, or sending her a heartfelt message expressing your love and gratitude.

1

Craig, L., & Mullan, K. (2011). How mothers and fathers share childcare: A cross-national time-use comparison. American Sociological Review, 76(6), 834-861.

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