Thursday, May 5, 2011

Today's Trivia – Mother’s Day

Seeing that Mother’s Day is coming up, you shouldn’t be at all surprised that this week’s useless but interesting information is all about that special day...

- The earliest Mother's Day celebration dates back to ancient Greece. They celebrated this day by honoring Rhea 'mother of the gods' with honey-cake, flowers and drinks at dawn.

- Ancient Egyptians celebrated this day by honoring the goddess Isis, who was known as 'mother of pharaohs.'

- Mother's Day in the United States was first proclaimed in 1870 in Boston by Julia Ward Howe, and Howe called for it to be observed each year nationally in 1872. As originally envisioned, Howe's "Mother's Day" was a call for Pacifism and disarmament by women. Early "Mother's Day" was mostly marked by women's peace groups. A common early activity was the meeting of groups of mothers whose sons had fought or died on opposite sides of the American Civil War.

- In 1907 Mother's Day was first celebrated in a small private way by Anna Jarvis in Grafton, West Virginia, to commemorate the anniversary of her mother's death two years earlier on May 9, 1905. Jarvis's mother, also named Anna Jarvis, had been active in Mother's Day campaigns for peace and worker's safety and health. The younger Jarvis launched a quest to get wider recognition of Mother's Day. The celebration organized by Jarvis on May 10, 1908 involved 407 children with their mothers at the Andrew's Methodist Church in Grafton. The following campaign to recognize Mother's Day was financed by clothing merchant John Wanamaker. As the custom of Mother's Day spread, the emphasis shifted from the pacifism and reform movements to a general appreciation of mothers.

- The first official recognition of the holiday was by West Virginia in 1910.

- A proclamation designating the second Sunday in May as Mother's Day was signed by U.S. president Woodrow Wilson on May 14, 1914.

- Originally, Mother's Day was a day of silent prayers and remembrance. But with time, the day became over commercialized. Anna Jarvis filed a lawsuit in an effort to stop the over-commercialization of Mother's Day however, she failed. Today, cards, gifts and dinners are an integral part of Mother's Day celebration.

- In United Kingdom and Ireland, Mother's Day is called Mothering Sunday. It is celebrated on the fourth Sunday of Lent, or three weeks before Easter Sunday.

- In the US, Canada, parts of Europe, Asia, and Australia Mother's Day is celebrated on the 2nd Sunday of May.

- As the tradition of celebrating Mother’s Day on the 2nd Sunday in May grew, the emphasis shifted from the original peace associations to the honouring of ones mother, much like mothering Sunday in the UK.

- In Yugoslavia, Mother's Day is known as 'Materitse', 'Materice'. On this day, children tie up their mother, setting her free only when she gives them sweets and gifts.

- Members of the working classes were often given the weekend off in the middle part of lent to visit their families, which eventually became associated with the bringing of gifts home to their mothers, especially flowers or a fruitcake called a Simnel cake.

- The name given to this day may also come from the old tradition of attending the church in which you were christened (your mother church) at least once a year. This may in fact have lead to the tradition of the working classes being given the day off so they could attend the church of their christening.

- The tradition of gift giving to mothers on Mother's Day was started in Australia by Janet Heyden, a resident of Leichhardt, Sydney, in 1924. She began the tradition during a visit to a patient at the Newington State Home for women, where she met many lonely and forgotten mothers. To cheer them up, she rounded up support from local school children and businesses to donate and bring gifts to the women. Every year thereafter, more support was raised by Janet with local businesses and even the local Mayor. It didn't take long for the day to become commercialized as it is to this day.

- The Czech Republic celebrated Women's Day until the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989. After the split of the country in 1993, the Czech Republic started celebrating Mother's Day and Saint Valentine's Day. However, the Czechs saw those two celebrations as commercialized and artificial, and they had mild popularity. Nowadays, the sales of flowers in Women's Day are higher than in Mother's Day or Valentine's Day.

- Mother's Day accounts for more than one-fifth of the floral purchases made for holidays.

- Carnations are the flowers associated with Mother's Day. White carnations are worn in the memory of deceased mothers. Red carnations are for those mothers who are alive.

- Of fresh flowers purchased for Mother's Day: 42% are mixed flowers, 33% roses, 10% carnations, 2% orchids, 1% chrysanthemums/daisies, 1% lilies and 11% other single flower types.

- Of bedding/garden plants purchased for Mother's Day: 15% are geraniums, 15% impatiens, 12% petunias, and 58% other.

- Of flowering houseplants purchased for Mother's Day: 12% azaleas, 5% African violets, 5% are lilies, 3% chrysanthemums, and 75% other.

- An AT&T survey estimated that 122.5 million phone calls to Mom are made on Mother's Day. Other Mother's Day findings revealed that 11 percent never call their mothers, and 3 percent of the 68 percent planning to ring Mom up called her collect.

- In the vast majority of the world's languages, the word for "mother" begins with the letter M.

- When the female embryo is only six weeks old, it makes preparations for motherhood by developing egg cells for future offspring. When a baby girl is born, each of her ovaries carries about a million egg cells, all that she will ever have. (I think this is amazing.

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