With roots in the Medieval period, Mother’s Day (or Mothering Sunday in some countries) is a day to honor mothers and motherhood around the world. Here we’ve brought together a comprehensive guide to the history, origins, key statistics, trends, and facts related to Mother’s Day. We’ll cover consumer spending and sentiment towards Mother’s Day and how it relates to the floristry industry in-depth as well as detailing industry trends, environmental considerations, and the impact of COVID-19 on Mother’s Day around the world.
- The History & Origins of Mother’s Day
- When & Where is Mother’s Day celebrated?
- General Statistics About Mothers
- Consumer Spending on Mother’s Day
- Consumer Sentiment Towards Mother’s Day
- The Flower Industry & Mother’s Day
- The Environmental Impact of Mother’s Day
- Mother’s Day & Covid-19
The History & Origins of Mother’s Day
Mothering Sunday in the United Kingdom
The concept of celebrating mothers and motherhood has been around for thousands of years. These include fertility rituals, festivals dedicated to mother-like goddesses, and other ceremonies honoring Mother Nature. But in the Medieval period, a more cohesive celebration began to emerge – one that is still observed today.
Mothering Sunday is traditionally celebrated on the fourth Sunday during Lent, also known as Laetare Sunday. Lent marks the period of 40 days when Jesus went into the desert to fast. This period usually runs from mid-February to early April. When Lent ends, the Easter celebrations begin.
Laetare Sunday is a kind of rest day for those fasting during Lent and is traditionally observed sometime in March. The newer idea of Mothering Sunday was combined with Laetare Sunday. On Mothering Sunday, Christians typically pay a visit to their “mother church”. This is usually the church where they were first baptized.
The idea of a mother church also has other connotations. For some Christians, the original mother church is Jerusalem. Mothering Sunday is, therefore a day to celebrate Jerusalem as a holy city. Christian celebrations of Mother’s Day are also associated with the Virgin Mary.
The entire institution of the Catholic Church was also celebrated as a “mother” during this time. Some Catholics still observe this religious motherhood today.
During the Reformation Period in Medieval England, King Henry VIII dissolved the Catholic monasteries and enforced Protestantism as the main version of Christianity in England. But the tradition of Mothering Sunday remained, with a few tweaks.
Protestants had different definitions of what a “mother church” was. In addition to the church where they were baptized, Protestants could also visit their local parish church or the closest cathedral.
The great cathedrals of England were the centers of different religious regions known as the diocese. Because all of the local churches were under the leadership of their regional diocese, the nearest cathedral was seen as the mother church of the local area.
Servants could also look forward to Mothering Sunday as a day off. The lords allowed the servants and their families to visit their own mother churches.
Mother’s Day in America
In the United States, a new Mother’s day tradition began to emerge in the early 1900s. The holiday was founded by Anna Jarvis in 1907 in honor of her late mother, Ann Reeves Jarvis.
Ann Reeves Jarvis worked as a nurse who treated wounded soldiers on both sides during the American Civil War. After the conflict had ended, Ann Reeves Jarvis campaigned for a day that celebrated peace above all else. She wanted to call this holiday “Mother’s Day For Peace.” This holiday was designed to be a rallying call for mothers across America who didn’t want to see their husbands or sons killed in military conflicts.
Ann Reeves Jarvis campaigned alongside Julia Ward Howe, an American activist, and author. While campaigning for an official Mother’s Day holiday, Howe released her “Mother’s Day Proclamation” in 1870.
This appeal was designed as a pacifist protest of the Civil War and conflicts in Europe. Two years later, Howe asked for the “Mother’s Day Peace” holiday to be observed yearly on the 2nd of June, but it didn’t take.
Ann Reeves Jarvis passed away in 1905, and with Howe now approaching her 90s, Anna Jarvis continued the work of her mother and Howe. In 1908, Jarvis appealed to Congress to have Mother’s Day enshrined as a national holiday. Congress refused, claiming that they’d also have to introduce a Mother-in-Law’s Day as well.
Undeterred by Congress’s condescension, Jarvis continued her efforts. By 1911, every state in the US had started celebrating Mother’s Day, and some had even officially recognized it. The first state to officially celebrate Mother’s Day was Jarvis’s home state of West Virginia.
In 1914, President Woodrow Wilson recognized Mother’s Day as an official national holiday, setting a date for the second Sunday in May every year. But although she achieved her dream and honored her mother’s legacy, Jarvis eventually became disillusioned with the commercialism that quickly took hold of Mother’s Day.
For Jarvis, this ignored Mother’s Day’s fundamental spirit and sentiment. Jarvis had envisioned the holiday as a celebration of mothers around the world. Instead, Mother’s Day became another commercial juggernaut along the lines of Valentine’s Day.
Ironically, Jarvis began to protest against Mother’s Day, and in 1943, she even tried to organize a petition to cancel the holiday. But she was unsuccessful and passed away in 1948.
When & Where is Mother’s Day celebrated?
Because of the separate traditions of Christian Mothering Sunday and American Mother’s Day, the holiday is celebrated at different times of the year across the world. The amount of variation is significant, but each country still aims to honor motherhood in its own way.
Here’s a rundown of the 2022 dates for Mother’s Day across the world:
8th of March 2022 (International Women’s Day)
In parts of Eastern Europe (and a few other countries), Mother’s Day is combined with International Women’s Day on the 8th of March every year:
|Azerbaijan||Kazakhstan||Republic of Macedonia|
|Bosnia & Herzegovina||Laos||Serbia|
27th of March 2022 (Mothering Sunday)
The United Kingdom and many of its territories celebrate Mother’s Day on the traditional day of Mothering Sunday (also known as Laetare Sunday):
|United Kingdom||Isle of Mann|
21st of March 2022 (Spring Equinox)
Many Arab nations have adopted a Mother’s Day tradition in the last 50 years or so. These countries have combined Mother’s Day with the celebration of the annual Spring Equinox:
|Jordan||Palestine||United Arab Emirates|
1st of May 2022 (First Sunday in May)
Spain, Portugal, and a few other countries across the world celebrate Mother’s Day on the first Sunday of every May:
8th of May 2022 (Mother’s Day – Second Sunday in May)
First established by Anna Jarvis, the United States celebrates Mother’s Day on the second Sunday in May. Several nations have adopted this date around the world as their official Mother’s Day, including many European countries:
|United States||China||Ethiopia||Ivory Coast||Papua New Guinea||Tanzania|
|Austria||Congo & DRC||Finland||Japan||Philippines||Trinidad & Tobago|
|Brazil||Czech Republic||Hong Kong||Malta||South Africa||Vietnam|
29th of May 2022 (Last Sunday in May or First Sunday in June)
France headlines several countries that celebrate Mother’s Day on either the last Sunday in May or the first Sunday in June:
Other Mother’s Day Dates:
Here’s a quick list of some other countries with their own unique Mother’s Day dates:
- Norway – 13th of February 2022 (Second Sunday of February)
- Slovenia – 25th March 2022
- Armenia – 7th of April 2022 (Annunciation Day, Motherhood & Beauty Day)
- South Korea – 8th of May 2022 (Parents Day)
- El Salvador, Guatemala, & Mexico – 10th of May 2022
- Poland – 26th of May 2022
- Nicaragua – 30th of May 2022
- Costa Rica – 15th of August 2022 (Assumption of Mary)
- Argentina – 16th of October 2022 (Dia de la Madre/Third Sunday of October)
General Statistics About Mothers
To know more about Mother’s Day, we need to learn more about mothers worldwide. Here are some key facts about global motherhood:
- It’s estimated that there are over 2.2 billion mothers in the global population, with approximately 85 million mothers living in the United States. Around 53% of the female population of the US are mothers.
- 81% of US women become mothers by the age of 44 as of 2010. This compares to 90% of women had become mothers by 44 in 1976.
- In the US in 2019, there were 3.7 million births. Women had an average age of 27 when giving birth to their first child. There were almost 1.8 births per woman in 2019.
- In the United States, there are 27 million mothers who have a Facebook account.
- According to Motherly’s State of Motherhood survey, 93% of American mothers report feeling burned out in some way. Reflecting this, 45% of mothers identify themselves as the primary carers of the children in their family.
Consumer Spending on Mother’s Day
Whether it has lost the fundamental spirit that Anna Jarvis intended, Mother’s Day is an exceptionally popular holiday. But it’s also a commercial business, especially for the greetings cards and flower industry.
Here are a few facts about consumer spending on Mother’s Day:
- Americans planned to spend $28.1 billion on Mother’s Day in 2021. This is an increase of $1.4 billion compared to the previous year, and next year could see even more spent. Here’s a rundown of Mother’s Day spending over the past ten years:
- The expected Mother’s Day spending per person in 2021 was also estimated to be $220.48. This was $16 more than 2020, and the number has been steadily increasing since 2018. Next year will likely see another increase in Mother’s Day spending. Here’s a look at how this has changed since 2017:
|Year||Average Mother’s Day spending per person|
- The top three most popular Mother’s Day purchases in 2021 were greetings cards, Mother’s Day flowers, Mother’s Day flower subscriptions, and special outings such as meals at restaurants. Here’s a breakdown of the top ten spending categories for Mother’s Day in 2021:
|Category||Percentage of Mother’s Day spending|
|Clothing & Accessories||40%|
|Books & CDs||23%|
- In 2021, Mother’s Day spending on flowers increased by 4% from 2020. This was the biggest recorded change across all categories.
- 2021 saw consumers purchase the majority of their Mother’s Day gifts online. However, small businesses and specialty stores were still in the mix. Here’s a breakdown of where consumers spent their money on Mother’s Day gifts:
|Spending location||Percentage of customers|
|Specialty store (Florists or jewelers etc)||26%|
- In 2019, UK consumers spent £1.6 billion on Mother’s Day gifts and experiences. This increased 0.8% from the previous year, although spending was likely to have dropped in 2020 due to the pandemic. Flowers and alcohol were among the most popular Mother’s Day gifts.
- In 2019, the average person in the UK spent about £22 on gifts for their mum on Mother’s Day. Over 70% of the population were estimated to have purchased a Mother’s Day gift.
- In 2020, 54% of Mother’s Day consumers in the UK were expected to purchase Mothering Sunday gifts online.
Consumer Sentiment Towards Mother’s Day
So we’ve looked at how much consumers spent on their Mother’s Day celebrations. But how do shoppers across the world actually feel about Mother’s Day? Here are key facts regarding consumer sentiment towards Mother’s Day:
- According to a 2021 NRF survey that questioned over 8000 American adults on their Mother’s Day spending, 83% of those surveyed said they would celebrate Mother’s Day. 17% said that they would not observe.
- 85% of male shoppers who were surveyed said that they would be celebrating, while 82% of female participants also said that they planned to honor the holiday.
The Flower Industry & Mother’s Day
Mother’s Day is one of the most important holidays of the year for the flower industry, rivaling Valentine’s Day and Christmas for its market worth. Here are some interesting facts and figures about the flower industry and Mother’s Day:
- Mother’s Day is the third-most lucrative holiday for florists across the country. Mother’s Day accounts for 26% of all holiday transactions at florist shops and 24% of the dollar volume for all holidays. Here’s a couple of tables comparing the impact of Mother’s Day with that of Valentine’s Day and Christmas Day in the US:
|Holiday||Percentage of All Holiday Transactions|
|Holiday||Percentage of $ Volume for All Holidays|
- In 2019, fresh flowers accounted for the vast majority of the flower-based Mother’s Day gifts in the US. However, consumers also purchased other products such as bedding plants and houseplants. Here’s a breakdown of the percentage of transactions for each plant category:
|Type of Plant||Percentage of Transactions|
|Outdoor bedding or garden plants||40%|
|Green or non-flowering houseplants||23%|
- 85% of florists across America saw an increase in flower sales for Mother’s Day in 2021. 32% recorded a sales increase ranging from 21 to 50%. Another 27% of these businesses saw their flower sales grow by 11 to 20%, while a further 20% of those surveyed recorded a sales jump of up to 10%.
- Over 70% of florists surveyed by the SAF believed that these sale increase came as a result of increased consumer demand. The next highest reason was an increase in prices and service fees, which almost 40% of florists listed as a reason for their increased sales.
- According to the National Retail Foundation (NRF) predictions, flower sales on Mother’s Day will increase from $2 billion in 2020 to $2.1 billion in 2021.
- 40% of Mother’s Day flowers were purchased over the phone in 2021. Nearly 40% of Mother’s Day Flower deliveries were made online, while just over 20% came from walk-in sales and curbside pickup options.
- In 2019, UK courier service Yodel delivered nearly 230,000 items for Mother’s Day. 67% of these deliveries involved fresh flowers or flower arrangements.
- Carnations are the most popular traditional flowers to send on Mother’s Day, along with roses, tulips, and peonies. The majority of these flowers are produced in several countries around the world. Here’s a rundown of where your Mother’s Day flowers are likely to come from:
|Type of Mother’s Day flower||Top producing country|
|Carnations||Colombia (40% of Colombia’s flower exports)|
|Roses||Ecuador (Over 70% of Ecuador’s flower exports)|
|Tulips||The Netherlands (80% of global tulip production)|
- In 2019, Colombia generated the vast majority of America’s cut flower imports, accounting for nearly $790 million of the market. Ecuador was next at $266.5 million, while the Netherlands was fourth with a value of $78 million.
The Environmental Impact of Mother’s Day
As climate change becomes a more significant issue, the environmental impact of Mother’s Day deserves to be examined. Anna Jarvis disowned Mother’s Day due to its significance giving way to commercialism. Today, we can criticize this over-commercialized holiday because of its environmental cost.
Here are some hard-hitting facts about the environmental impact of Mother’s Day:
- Approximately 5.6 billion cut flower stems are sold in the US every year. Close to 80% of these stems are imported from other countries, which involves air freight journeys that negatively impact the environment. Of the imported stems, 93% come from Colombia or Ecuador.
- Some studies have estimated that shipping 100 million roses from foreign countries to florists in America generates up to 9000 metric tons of CO2 emissions. These flowers are often flown thousands of miles from the producing country to the US.
- Every year, nearly 1.3 billion greetings cards are posted in the US, including any cards sent for Mother’s Day. These cards generate as much CO2 as charging over 20 billion smartphones or the yearly energy costs of 22,000 houses.
- A 2014 study by the University of Exeter in the United Kingdom found that a single greetings card can produce a carbon footprint totaling up to 140 grams of carbon dioxide. For some context, a standard greetings card rarely weighs more than 30 grams. So each card generates almost three times its weight in carbon emissions.
- During transit, cut flowers sold for Mother’s Day are typically delivered in refrigerated trucks to keep them fresh. On top of the pollution generated by the air journeys for these flowers, refrigerated trucks use 25% more fuel than non-refrigerated trucks.
- Some research indicates that approximately 40% of all flowers produced for sale in the US are never purchased. These stems then end up being wasted and thrown away, which produces harmful emissions if these flowers are burned or sent to landfills.
- It’s estimated that the global florist industry produces 100,000 tons of waste plastic every year. This often comes in the form of cellophane wrap and other packaging.
- During the peak season that spans Valentine’s Day and Mother’s Day, the environmental impact of flowers is staggering. Data from the International Council on Clean Transportation (ICCT) shows that flying 4 billion flowers from Colombia to the US produces around 360,000 metric tons of carbon dioxide emissions. The fuel burned during these freight flights equates to approximately 114 million liters.
- The Washington Post
- The Washington Post
- Green Journal
- Paradise Flowers
- International Council on Clean Transportation
Mother’s Day & Covid-19
The outbreak of Covid-19 had a devastating impact on the globe and reduced our ability to celebrate holidays like Mother’s Day. Here are a few stats and facts looking at how Covid-19 has impacted Mother’s Day:
- According to the yearly survey by the NRF (National Retail Foundation), 82% of participants said that celebrating Mother’s Day in 2021 was more important to them because of the Covid-19 pandemic.
- During the height of the pandemic in 2020, 78% of participants in the NRF’s survey said that they considered it important to celebrate Mother’s Day despite the outbreak of Covid-19.
- However, it seems that the pandemic didn’t actually affect people’s desire to buy Mother’s Day gifts. In 2020, the NRF found that consumers planned to spend a record $26.7 billion on Mother’s Day gifts during the year that the pandemic hit. This amount then increased to $28.1 billion in 2021.
- Despite restrictions such as lockdowns and social distancing, 46% of the NRF’s 2020 survey respondents said that they wanted to celebrate Mother’s Day with a special outing, such as a meal. In 2021, that number increased slightly to 49%.
- In 2020, 66% of people who took the NRF survey said that they were planning to a virtual or online celebration for Mother’s Day through Zoom and other video calling providers.
- In the United Kingdom, reports found that consumers spent 25.4% less on Mother’s Day gifts during the pandemic in 2020 than they did in previous years. The most common factor for this was the economic uncertainty brought on by the economic challenges of the outbreak.
- Industries worldwide were affected by the Coronavirus pandemic in 2020, including the flower industry. In the European Union, the cut flower industry posted losses of $1.2 billion during the first six weeks of the surge of lockdowns across Europe.
- From March to April in 2020, it’s estimated that approximately 400 million cut flower stems were destroyed as waste in the Netherlands alone. This included 140 million tulips that may have gone on the shelves for Mother’s Day.
- Kenya is rapidly becoming one of the largest flower producers in the world. But in April 2020, the African nation recorded a drop in flower exports of 85%. In May, 50,000 flower industry workers in Kenya had lost their jobs.
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