This Sunday is the day Americans set aside to honor their mothers. Here are 9 things you should know about moms and Mother's Day.

1. In 1914, President Woodrow Wilson issued a presidential proclamation that officially established the first national Mother's Day holiday to celebrate America's mothers. Many individual states celebrated Mother's Day before then, but it was not until Wilson lobbied Congress in 1914 that Mother's Day was officially set on the second Sunday of every May.

2. President Wilson established Mother's Day after years of lobbying by the mother of the holiday, Anna Marie Jarvis and the World's Sunday School Association. Anna Jarvis' mother, Ann Jarvis, had attempted to establish a version of Mother's Day during the Civil War as a time for remembrance. By the 1920s, though, Anna Jarvis became disgusted by the commercialization of the holiday. She incorporated herself as the Mother's Day International Association, trademarked the phrases "second Sunday in May" and "Mother's Day", and was once arrested for disturbing the peace at a Mother's Day carnation sale. According to her New York Times obituary, Jarvis became embittered because too many people sent their mothers a printed greeting card. As she said, "A printed card means nothing except that you are too lazy to write to the woman who has done more for you than anyone in the world. And candy! You take a box to Mother—and then eat most of it yourself. A pretty sentiment."

3. Jarvis also established the tradition of giving carnations on Mother's Day. At a memorial service for her mother, Jarvis gave away carnations, her mother's favorite flower, to all that attended. Red and pink carnations were to be worn for living mothers, and white for those who had passed away.

4. Mother's Day was the most important Sunday on the organized crime calendar. According to Joe Pistone, an FBI undercover agent, the mafia often closed for business when Mother's Day arrived each May.

5. Mother's Day is the third-largest card-sending holiday in the United States, with 141 million cards exchanged annually. It is also the largest card-sending holiday for the Latino community.

6. Based on the latest Census figures (2010), 53 percent of 15- to 44-year-old women are mothers. 20 percent had 2 children, 17 percent had one, 10 percent had three, and 5 percent had four or more.

7. In the U.S., there are 5 million stay-at-home moms. In 2012, 24 percent of married-couple family groups with children under 15 had a stay-at-home mother, up from 21 percent in 2000. In 2007, before the recession, stay-at-home mothers were found in 24 percent of married-couple family groups with children under 15, not statistically different from the percentage in 2012. 61 percent of women age 16 to 50 who had a birth in the past 12 months were in the labor force.

8. There are 10.3 million single mothers living with children younger than 18 in 2012, up from 3.4 million in 1970.

9. Five mothers are mentioned by name in the genealogy of Jesus (Matthew 1:1-17): Tamar, Rahab, Ruth, Bathsheba, and Mary.  

Recent posts in this series: 9 Things You Should Know About Pornography and the Brain • 9 Things You Should Know About Planned Parenthood • 9 Things You Should Know About the Boston Marathon Bombing • 9 Things You Should Know About Female Body Image Issues • 9 Things You Should Know About the Gosnell Infanticide and Murder Trial • 9 Things You Should Know About Edith Schaeffer • 9 Things You Should Know About Duck Dynasty

Joe Carter is an editor for The Gospel Coalition and the co-author of How to Argue Like Jesus: Learning Persuasion from History’s Greatest Communicator. You can follow him on Twitter.

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Joe Carter


Joe Carter is an editor for The Gospel Coalition and the co-author of How to Argue Like Jesus: Learning Persuasion from History’s Greatest Communicator. You can follow him on Twitter.

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