You Da Mom: A history of Mothers day in North America


On Sunday, May 13, many will start the day making breakfast and arrange bouquets of flowers and gifts for their beloved mothers. This annual holiday has a rich history including various traditions across North America

Mother’s Day was made a national holiday in 1914 by Anna Jarvis, a teacher in West Virginia who thought there should be an official day for celebration between mothers and their families. Jarvis’s version of the day included wearing a white carnation and attending a church service and visiting one’s mother, which is also why it takes place on the second Sunday of May.The date in May was personal to Jarvis, and she chose it to honor her mother’s death with her mother’s favorite flower the carnation found in the spring.

1,697 miles away from Texas, in Canada, Mother’s Day is not an official holiday, although it is usually celebrated in May by most families.  Similar to in the U.S., the holiday is commercialized and families show their mothers they appreciate them by making them cards and buying them flowers.

Mother’s Day in Mexico is slightly different than in the northern states. For starters, it’s always May 10th, which was made a national holiday in 1922 by Marta Acevedo as to reinforce the feminist movement after the Mexican Revolution, focusing on paying tribute and giving respect to moms. El ‘Excélsior,’ a famous newspaper based in Mexico City, organized events that recognized mothers. The events led by ‘Excélsior’ promoted the construction of ‘El Monumento a la Madre,’ the Mother’s monument on May 10, 1949. The plaque beneath the obelisk depicting a mother and child reads “A la que nos amó antes de conocernos. Porque su maternidad fue voluntaria”. Which translates to “Dedicated to the one who loved us before she meets us, because she wanted to be a mother.”

“Himno a las mama’s,” written by first lady Trina de Moya Vásquez, is the national mother’s day song in the Dominican Republic, which takes place the last Sunday of May. It was established in 1926 by first lady, Doña Trina de Moya and Ercilia Pepín teacher and activist, loosely based off of Mother’s Day in the U.S. Red carnations are given to mothers, and a lily or spikenard flower is put out to honor deceased mothers. It is traditional to wear red if your mother is living, or white if not, and it was traditional for relatives to sing to their mothers. Today the holiday is more commercialized, but brings families together and honors mothers.

Anna Jarvis’ idea even made its way to Cuba. In a town meeting in Santiago de las Vegas, Habana, Cuba, the city wanted to have a day to celebrate mothers. It was later made a national holiday in 1928. Journalist Víctor Muñoz wrote about the celebration of the holiday, which made it widely known and celebrated across the country in 1922.

Although Mother’s Day had different beginnings in each country they all had a common theme of honoring, appreciating, and respecting mothers. This May, families will gather around to show these special women exactly how much they mean to them.


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