Mother’s Day History and Trivia

Hello everyone, Winnie Griggs here. It’s Mother’s Day as I write this and even though Mother’s Day will be over by the time you see it, I thought it would be fun to share some history and fun facts that surround this special occasion. And yes, I know that for many of us, this Mother’s Day was celebrated differently than what we might have liked


Mothers have been celebrated throughout history.

  • In one of the earliest celebrations was in ancient Greece. In the spring they would honor Rhea, mother of the gods and the goddess of fertility, motherhood and generation.
  • In ancient Roman there was also a spring festival celebrating a mother goddess named Cybele. It was held on the Ides of March, lasted three days and was called Hilaria. It involved having her followers make offerings at the temple, hold parades and masquerades and play games.
  • In England the day coincides with an observance called Mothering Sunday. Originating in the 17th century, it takes place on the fourth Sunday of Lent. Traditionally, families who had moved away would return home to the original church they attended. A prayer service honoring the Virgin Mary was held and then afterwards children would present flowers to their own mothers.
  • In America, the celebration had a different origin.
    In an effort to honor her own mother Anna Jarvis, who was not a mother herself,  wanted to establish a day to celebrate mothers in an intimate manner. She tirelessly campaigned to that end and in May of 1913 President Woodrow Wilson signed a Joint Resolution designating the second Sunday in May to be Mother’s Day, thus making it a national day of celebration.
    Unfortunately Anna’s story does not have a happy ending. She quickly became disillusioned with the holiday, declaring it had become overly commercialized and that this detracted from the personal aspects she had envisioned. She began staging boycotts and walkouts. Anna eventually spent all her money fighting her cause and died, destitute, at the age of 84 in a sanitorium.


  • In 2017 approximately $23.5 billion was spent on Mother’s Day gifts and the average consumer in the US spent a little over $185 on their moms.
  • Mother’s Day holds the record as the third highest day for flower and plant purchases Only Christmas and Hanukkah rank higher. In fact, approximately one fourth of all flowers purchased annually are bought for Mother’s Day. Something that may account for why Mothers love getting flowers is that a study conducted by Nancy Etcoff, Ph.D of Harvard Medical School, found that that when fresh-cut flowers are around it generally makes people more compassionate and happier in general.
  • It will probably also come as no surprise that Mother’s Day is the most popular day of the year for folks to eat out, beating out even Valentine’s Day for that honor. In 2018 approximately 87 million adults visited restaurants on Mother’s Day.
  • And for those who can’t be there in person to take their mom to a restaurant, Mother’s Day is also the day that ranks as the highest for number of phone calls made. That number  reaches something around 122 million.
  • In 2018 Approximately $4.6 billion was spent on jewelry during the Mother’s Day buying period.
  • And of course the most popular item to give Mother on her special day is a card. Every Mother’s Day about 152 million cards are sent.


  • During the 1920s France handed out medals to mothers who had large families. This was done to signify gratitude for helping to rebuild the population of the country that was devastated by the loss of so many lives during WWI. The practice was eventually discontinued and today the more common gift for a mother in France is a cake shaped like a flower.
  • The record for the oldest woman to give birth is held by a retired schoolteacher in India. Satyabhama Mahapatra gave birth to a boy at age 65.
  • The record for the shortest length of time between births is held by Jayne Bleackley whose two babies were born only 208 days apart.
  • On the flip side, the woman who holds the record for the longest interval between births is Elizabeth Buttle. Her first child was born in May of 1956 and her second in November of 1997 when Elizabeth was 60. The infants were born 41 years and 185 days apart.
  • The record for the highest number of babies born to a single woman is a whopping 69! The woman was a Russian peasant living in the 18th century. She gave birth to 16 sets of twins, seven sets of triplets and 4 set of quadruplets.
  • And did you ever wonder why the word for Mom in nearly every language starts with an “M” sound? It is likely because the first sound an infant learns to verbalize is the ma sound. Since babies only need to open and close their lips to make these sounds – no teeth or tongue are needed – it comes more easily to them than other sounds.

There you have it. Did any of these facts surprise you? Also, how do you normally celebrate Mother’s Day and how was it different this year?  Leave a comment to be entered in a drawing for winner’s choice of any book from my backlist.



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Winnie Griggs is the author of Historical (and occasionally Contemporary) romances that focus on Small Towns, Big Hearts, Amazing Grace. She is also a list maker, a lover of dragonflies and holds an advanced degree in the art of procrastination.
Three of Winnie’s books have been nominated for the Romantic Times Reviewers Choice Award, and one of those nominations resulted in a win.
Winnie loves to hear from readers. You can connect with her on facebook at or email her at

43 thoughts on “Mother’s Day History and Trivia”

  1. Thanks for sharing with us today. I enjoyed the fun facts. How different was our celebration…..well we didn’t get to eat out and we chatted on Google hangout. Both were changes .

  2. Hi Winnie …. Our son and family stopped in for brunch. We attended church online, which was great. Then we went four wheeling a bit. The day was topped off with a visit to the Dairy Queen. Nice day I would say. But different.

    • I stayed home. My husband made me breakfast and dinner. I have 3 children and only heard from 2 of them. I have read in the Ginninus world book and some of the ladies you talked about. Thank you for sharing. Hope you had a good weekend

  3. Thank you for your very interesting post. We had a great day off on line, church, a delicious meal and spending most of the day outside due to perfect weather.

  4. Good morning! I hope you had a blessed Mother’s day. Ours was only different in the fact that we celebrated at home. My two daughter’s did veggies, dicing, slicing and tortillas. I grilled chicken and beef that I had put on the seasoned/marinated Saturday. Neither of my girls have ventured to grilling yet. We had street beef and chicken street tacos with sauteed mushrooms, onions, zucchini and peppers with pico de gallo, shredded cabbage and diced avacados served with corn tortillas and had Cheese Cake Factory cheesecake with fresh blueberries, strawberries and blackberries later in the day. It was a great day. My oldest gave me a beautiful frames cyanotype she had done with butter cup flowers and a bag of various chocolates and goodies. I did not know a lot of what you put on this blog and I love learning history so thanks for sharing! The trivia you shared is shocking! I entered menopause at 46 and I can’t imagine having had my cycle as long as some of those ladies did! Bless their Hearts! I had heard of the Indian woman that had all those children though, it still sounds too outrageous to believe though. Stay safe in these difficult times, we have a long haul I’m afraid.

  5. Yes it was very different this year my daughters work for a mission group in Memphis passing out meals daily to children and so they didn’t get to come home this year. Last year they slipped in and with help of their dad my husband surprised me with a lovely lunch date and a movie. It was Awesome!!

    • Hello Glenda. Sorry you didn’t get to spend time with your daughters but you must be so proud of the work they are doing. Sounds like you raised them well.

  6. Welcome here today. Hope you had a Happy Mothers Day also. Wow this is a wonderfully informative post. There a lot of things I had no idea about. This is cool.
    When the two kids were home, we went to church, out to lunch, and we would start planting flowers, oh and they always got me a little gift. After they left the house, we would still go to church and then lunch and then a movie that I got to choose. Yesterday though my husband and son were at a reenactment training. So my daughter who moved to CA, we talked for a good long time. In the early evening I went to my sons house and we ordered out at Applebees with curbside pickup and we all had a lovely time.

      • Yes thank you, my day was nice and quiet with the two kitties.
        Originally it was scheduled for the middle of April. Well that didnt happen. LOL
        Mothers Day weekend was the only weekend that everyone could get together.
        Thats ok really.

  7. Winnie, Thank you for this informative post! This Mother’s Day was a hard one for my Mom , since her Mother’s passed away in February.

  8. Interesting information on Mother’s Day.

    I celebrated by visiting my Mother and taking her some flowers.

  9. I celebrated Mother’s Day with my Mom, pretty much as we have in past years. Instead of taking her out to eat, I ordered and picked it up. Mother’s Day is only a few days after her birthday, so her present was included in her birthday. My three sisters came over for her birthday, then could have Mother’s Day either with their grown children or talking to them on the phone.

  10. Winnie, Thanks so much for an interesting post. Most of the information on early celebrations of/for mothers was new to me. I did know that Anna Jarvis was responsible for Mother’s Day being an official holiday. I did not know the follow-up to that and her sad end. I had heard of the Russian woman who had the most children, but didn’t remember the specifics. The fact that she survived so many births, especially multiple births, back during that time period is amazing as is the fact that they only lost one set of twins. I did some checking on the information and came away a bit irritated. They list the name of the FATHER, but nowhere is the name of the mother mentioned, except as Mrs Feodor Vassilyev 1 & 2, in all the references I found. It said he also had a second wife who had 18 children, all twins and triplets. There are some skeptics, but it was reported from several sources at the time. The logistics of raising them all is mind-blowing. I would think in 1725-65 it really would have taken a village to raise them. I found the “ma” sounding names for mother and reasoning for it interesting. Makes sense.

    We usually get together with our children and their families for Mother’s Day, but this year, it was cards sent and phone calls. My husband and I had a nice breakfast, but never got the energy for a nice dinner. He had a bowl of cereal and I had a bowl of ramen noodles. When we can finally leave our house ( I have an auto-immune disease and haven’t left our house & yard since March 11), we are going to go out and have a really nice dinner. We are going to try to get takeout from a restaurant once a week. It is something we have been meaning to do to support them, but just haven’t gotten around to it more than twice.

    I hope you had a wonderful Mother’s Day. Stay safe and healthy.

  11. Hi Patricia, sounds like you get sucked into research as easily as I 🙂

    Sorry you didn’t get to spend time with your children. Hopefully some of these restrictions will ease up soon.

  12. Hi, yes this is very informative , Thank you for sharing it with us. Our Mothers Day celebration was celebrated pretty much as usual, my son in law cooked dinner and we spent a couple of hours at our daughters house, they live walking distance from my husband and I , it was very nice, it was my husband, me, our daughter, our son in law and our 2 grandchildren we have from them. It was very nice. We also have a son and his little family, we have one grandson with him , but they live 6 hours away from us, they don’t usually get to come, for sure not this year. But we usually either celebrate mothers day here at our house or at our daughters house, we had a very nice time together.

  13. Fascinating stuff, Winnie. I shudder at the thought of someone having 69 children. I have trouble remembering the names of my three!

    I hadn’t seen my family for nearly two months and they decided enough was enough. They all came over to celebrate Mother’s Day and we had a great time.

    Stay safe and sane.

    • LOL Margaret. I know what you mean. I used to think it was so funny when my mom would mix up all our names when we were all together and now I’m doing it too. 🙂

  14. I love the little tips here. I can’t imagine anyone having 69 children where would you put them all. It would take one large house. This mother’s day was no different for me. We hung out at home and I cooked supper for us.

  15. Thanks for a great post, I learned quite a bit. Since my mom is in a very high risk group, we’ve been dropping off groceries and supplies but not spending time with her. On Saturday, we ordered her a pizza and dropped it off–it’s the first time she hasn’t had to cook since this all began. Then, on Sunday I celebrated with my own kids with pizza and a movie of my choice. Since their teen and preteen boys now, I don’t usually get much say in what we watch!

    • Oh what a sweet daughter you are to give your mom a pizza. My kids have been treating me the same way, just dropping things off at the door and maybe literally just poke their head in to say hi. But we finally got together for mother’s day. But they brought the meal and we had an outdoor lunch. It was great to see everyone – it was the best mother’s day gift they could have given me.

  16. I was fortunate enough to be visiting at the time so I celebrated with my mom. Usually I am a state away from her. It was a great day.

  17. Usually I have the 3 of my 5 children who live close by eat with me. They provide the food, and I Supply the table and dinnerware. This year I was at home with my daughter while she slept because she worked Saturday and Sunday night. But I am still blessed because all my children and grandchildren are healthy, and my mom is still with us and alert and while at 89.

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