What to Know About Mother's Day 2023: Date, History, and Traditions

Make Mom feel extra special this year by sharing one of these traditions with her. 

Moms genuinely are superheroes, so it's only fair that we dedicate a whole day to them. Whether you surprise mom with breakfast in bed or a thoughtful gift, Mother's Day is all about celebrating moms and mother figures everywhere. We didn't always pamper mom this way, though. The holiday has a fascinating history filled with inspiring women worth learning about before diving into this year's Mother's Day brunch.

The History of Mother's Day

happy mother and daughter outside in a park
DisobeyArt / Adobe Stock

It's fitting that the holiday was started by a strong woman honoring her mom, but you might not know that the first Mother's Day celebration was a memorial service.

In the early 1900s, a woman named Ann Jarvis passed away. She was a Civil War medic and peace activist who often spoke of her dream to create a national holiday that would honor mothers everywhere. Throughout her life, she held what she called 'Mothers' Day Work Clubs' in her home state of West Virginia. At these meetings, she would gather local mothers and teach seminars on how to raise healthy children. She drew inspiration from the feminist poet Julia Ward Howe, who published the "Mother's Day Proclamation" in 1870 and dreamed of a holiday where people everywhere would help struggling mothers in their communities.

When she passed away, her daughter Anna Jarvis wanted to do something to celebrate her mother's life in a meaningful way. So on May 10, 1908, Anna sent 500 white carnations to the Andrews Methodist Episcopal Church in Grafton, West Virginia (her mother's hometown). Anna also held a service in Philadelphia, where she was living then. This is considered the first Mother's Day celebration, although it wasn't a national holiday until eight years later.

After Anna's memorial for her mom, she raised awareness about creating a special day to honor moms everywhere. Over the next several years, her proposition gained popularity, and by 1914, Woodrow Wilson declared Mother's Day a national holiday.

It's worth noting that, later in her life, Anna fought to remove Mother's Day as a national holiday because she thought it had become too commercialized. Rather than a day of service for mothers, she saw greeting card companies and retail chains using the day as a way to sell products. But more than 100 years later, we still celebrate moms each May.

When Is Mother's Day?

In the United States, Mother's Day is always celebrated on the second Sunday of May. This year, it falls on Sunday, May 14, 2023.

How to Celebrate Mother's Day

There's no wrong way to shower mom with love, but if you're looking for ideas, we've rounded up a few of our favorite ways to celebrate.

Lend a Helping Hand

To honor Ann Jarvis' original vision, look for ways you can help a mom out this season. Whether dropping off a meal for a working mom or offering to help shuttle kids to and from school or sports practice, your mom friends will surely appreciate the extra support. If you're not sure how to help, that's okay too! Send a simple card with an open offer for anything she needs.

Send a Card

Whether you're spending the day together or miles apart, Mom will love a thoughtful card on her day. We've got 25 free printable Mother's Day cards you can download and print at home, and if you need help writing just the right thing inside, you can pull inspiration from these Mother's Day quotes.

Start a New Tradition

It doesn't matter what you do, as long as you celebrate Mom! Consider starting a new tradition this year and plan a fun day together. Enjoy a game night, or share a relaxing spa day the two of you can look forward to year after year.

Surprise Her with a Gift

This Mother's Day, surprise mom with a gift that's perfect for her. Pick up a self-care gift for the Mom that deserves a spa day, or go with a sweet and sentimental gift she'll cherish forever.

Share a Meal

We're all about a delicious Mother's Day brunch, but you don't have to limit yourself to waffles and pancakes! Instead, spend the day cooking together (you can even plan a virtual cooking date if you can't celebrate in person) or take mom to her favorite local restaurant.

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