Did You Know? Facts, Figures, and Folklore about Motherhood and Mother’s Day

Did you know that the celebration of motherhood dates back to the ancient Greeks? Rhea, the mother of all Greek goddesses, was honored annually at a springtime feast. In ancient Rome, a raucous spring festival was held in honor of the Roman mother goddess, Cybele, while the Celtic Pagans linked their celebration of the mother goddess Brigid to the coming of spring and the first milking of the ewes.


Did you know that the first official celebration of mothers in the United States took place in 1858? Anna Reeves Jarvis campaigned for a Mothers’ Work Day in her home state of West Virginia to raise awareness about local sanitation issues. When Jarvis passed away in 1905, her daughter Anna pursued a national mother’s day in honor of her own activist mom. Anna’s efforts paid off when in 1914, Mother’s Day was recognized as a national holiday by Presidential proclamation.


Did you know that motherhood is commemorated in national celebrations around the globe? From Australia to Zimbabwe, more than sixty countries celebrate Mother’s Day together with Americans on the second Sunday in May. In the United Kingdom, Mothering Sunday is held on the forth Sunday of the Lenten Season. March 8th marks the celebration of moms in most countries of the Former Soviet Union, while the Arab world honors mothers on the Vernal Equinox (March 21).


Did you know that every September, Americans honor military mothers who have lost a son or daughter during active duty? Known as Gold Star Mother’s Day, the holiday has been set by Presidential proclamation since 1936 for the last Sunday in September. Gold Star Mothers is the name of a bereavement support group started by Grace Darling Seibold, whose son was killed in combat over France during World War I.


Did you know that on Mother’s Day, the President of the United States issues an annual proclamation reaffirming the national significance of mothers to the American people? In 2004, for example, then President George W. Bush declared that, “Mothers who protect, teach, and nurture their children with all their hearts strengthen their families and help build a better future for our country.”


Did you know that stepmoms in America have their own special holiday on May 1st? Of course, you are welcome to honor your stepmom on Mother’s Day, too!


Did you know that more than 83 million mothers are living today in the United States, according to the U.S. Census Bureau? There are approximately 2 billion mothers living worldwide.


Did you know that in the United States, 56% of all women between the ages of 15 and 44 are mothers? The percentage spikes to 82% for women between the ages of 40 and 44.


Did you know that the average age at which a woman becomes a mom for the first time is 25.1 years? That’s up from 21 years of age in 1970. Every year, about 4.3 million American women give birth to a new baby.


Did you know that modern moms have an average family size of two children, while mothers in the 1950s had an average of 3.5 kids? In the 1700s, women gave birth to seven to ten children each.


Did you know that there are 10.4 million single moms in America living with children under the age of 18? This is up from 3.4 million single moms in 1970.


Did you know that seven out of 10 moms with a child over the age of one work outside the home? In 1976, 39% of moms worked full-time. For those moms with a child under the age of one, 55% work outside the home, as compared to 31% in 1976.


Did you know that 81% of American children younger than 6 eat dinner with their mothers most evenings? 66% of the 6-and-under-set eat dinner regularly with their dads, too.


Did you know that nearly 96% of all Americans participate in Mother’s Day celebrations in some way? For example, the holiday is the peak day for long distance carriers and one of the busiest days of the year for restaurants.


Did you know that the founder of Mother’s Day, Anna Jarvis, was vehemently opposed to the commercialization of the holiday? “I wanted it to be a day of sentiment, not profit,” she once said. Despite Jarvis’ opposition, Mother’s Day is the second biggest gift-giving holiday in America, preceded only by Christmas. The National Retail Foundation estimates that Americans will spend more than $14 billion a year on Mother’s Day.


Did you know that having children later in life may help moms to live longer? The oldest “new” mom on the books is Indian schoolteacher Satyabhama Mahapatra, who gave birth in 2003 at the age of 65 to a baby boy. Mahapatra just outpaced Italian Rosanna Dalla Corte, who, in 1994, had a baby boy at the age of 63. Both children were conceived through artificial insemination with the eggs of younger relatives.


Did you know that Mr. Roger’s mom knit him many of the sweaters he donned on the set of his popular children’s television show?


Did you know that elephant moms gestate their calves for 22 months? Most human babies are born after 37 to 42 weeks of gestation. (Thankfully�)