Mother’s Day 2024

From the sheer volume of flowers purchased in the US and Canada to the holiday’s unique origins, there are many fascinating facts about how we celebrate Mother’s Day today.

Behind all your stories is always your mother’s story because hers is where yours begins.

—Mitch Albom

Mother’s Day is on Sunday, May 12, 2024. It’s held on the second Sunday in May every year and is hugely popular in the US and Canada with the number of bouquets sent to American moms numbering in the tens of millions every year.

Happy Mother’s Day! In addition to prompting millions of phone calls throughout the US and Canada, the holiday is a chance to celebrate the love, wisdom, and support that mothers and maternal figures provide us. One way to do just that is through laughter—and I suggest incorporating some hilarious mom jokes into your conversation (see below).

Mother’s Day was not always about flowers, greeting cards, and brunch plans, though. Here, I look at some information about the history of the holiday as well as some statistics about how popular the day is and the top gifts for mom.

Happy Mothers Day © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

In 2023, Americans spent $35.7 billion in total on Mother’s Day gifts and activities. That’s a whole lot of daisies and spa gift cards! This figure is up almost $4 billion from the previous year. In fact, spending on Mother’s Day has gone up steadily since 2018 (yes, even during the pandemic).

In a 2023 National Retail Federation survey, 84 percent of respondents said they celebrated Mother’s Day in some way. Consumers spent an average of $274.02 on their Mother’s Day celebrations which is almost $30 more than the past year.

Flowers are one of the hot-ticket items on Mother’s Day with 74 percent of respondents to the National Retail Federation’s 2023 survey saying that they picked out some blooms for mom. Americans spent around $3.2 billion on flowers alone for the holiday.

Mother’s Day or some form of holiday meant to honor moms is celebrated in more than 100 countries around the world. Most, like the US and Canada celebrate the day on the second Sunday of May. Other countries including many in Eastern Europe celebrate their family matriarchs on International Women’s Day, March 8, while several Arab nations celebrate it on the day of Spring Equinox, March 21.

In Mexico, the day falls on May 10, no matter what day of the week it is and involves flowers, music, food, large celebrations, and a morning serenade of the song Las Mananitas from mariachi singers.

Mother’s Day is the third most popular holiday when it comes to card sales, according to the Greeting Card Association. Americans purchase an incredible 113 million cards for the holiday every year. Flowers and a card for mom are a pretty standard gift so it makes sense that Mother’s Day ranks behind only Christmas cards (1.3 billion) and Valentine’s Day cards (145 million) when it comes to total sales.

According to National Retail Federation research, the top purchase for moms in 2023 was greeting cards followed by flowers and special outings including things like dining out.

So, just how many mothers (or mother figures) around the world will be getting gifts this year? Those numbers are hard to crunch but it’s estimated that there are about 2.2 billion mothers living in the world right now with 77 million of those moms living in the US. Given what we know about how many countries around the world have their own version of Mother’s Day, that’s a whole lot of celebrating mom.

Happy Mothers Day © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Mother’s Day is usually the busiest day of the year for restaurants

Going out to a fancy restaurant is often tied to a special occasion—and there’s no special occasion quite like one for moms. Research from the National Restaurant Association has found that in an average year, about a third of U.S. adults visit a restaurant to celebrate on Mother’s Day. That often makes Mother’s Day the busiest day of the year for restaurants.

This deluge of diners even surpasses Valentine’s Day perhaps because the mid-February holiday really only takes up tables for two whereas a Mother’s Day celebration often takes up a four-top or more. 

Restaurants aren’t the only businesses that get a boost on Mother’s Day. The National Retail Federation estimated that consumers were expecting to spend $31 billion on Mother’s Day celebrations with a big chunk of that change being forked over for jewelry while other industries such as spa services also see a noticeable uptick.

However, the two biggest winners of the day besides restaurants are florists (it’s their third-most-lucrative day of the year) and greeting card companies (which deliver heartfelt salutations to three-quarters of the moms in America). Overall, Americans spend much more on gifts for mom than dad—people spent an average of $246 on Mother’s Day in 2022 compared to $171 for Father’s Day.

Happy Mothers Day © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

The first official Mother’s Day took place 109 years ago when Woodrow Wilson made it a holiday

The history of the Mother’s Day holiday has a few starting points. Celebrations of mothers can be traced back to the ancient Romans and Greeks who celebrated mother goddesses like Rhea and Cybele. Mothering Sunday was an early Christian festival.

Mother’s Day, as we know it today, originated in the United States. It was made into an official holiday more than a century ago but the holiday’s original creator had different intentions when she put a day to honor mothers in motion in the early 20th century.

Julia Ward Howe, an abolitionist and suffragette who wrote the lyrics for Battle Hymn of the Republic, wrote a Mother’s Day Proclamation in 1870 to call for mothers to promote peace. She also campaigned for a Mother’s Peace Day. This laid the groundwork for Anna Jarvis.

Jarvis, a woman from Philadelphia, held a service memorial for her late mother on May 12, 1907. Jarvis’ mother, Ann Reeves Jarvis, had organized women’s groups to promote health and friendship. For example, she started Mothers’ Day Work Clubs to help women learn to care for children and Mother’s Friendship Day which brought mothers together after the Civil War.

The following year, Jarvis sent 500 white carnations to Andrews Methodist church in Grafton, West Virginia to honor her mother which started the tradition of wearing and giving carnations on Mother’s Day. This is considered by many to be the first Mother’s Day celebration. She started to campaign for a national day to celebrate mothers.

Within five years of Jarvis’ 1907 tribute to her mother, every state in the U.S. had started observing the day. President Woodrow Wilson made it a national holiday 108 years ago, in 1914. As time went on, Jarvis became displeased with her creation taking issue with the commercialization of Mother’s Day.

Happy Mothers Day © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Numbers don’t lie

  • 2.2 billion: Estimated number of mothers in the world, according to a 2014 Pew Research Study
  • 30: Median age for first-time mothers in the US
  • $178,201: The salary stay-at-home mothers should make, based on 2019 research by Salary.com
  • 1914: Year President Woodrow Wilson made Mother’s Day an official national holiday

Funny Mom Jokes

  • While mom jokes may not constitute their own endearingly groan-worthy genre like dad jokes do, these one-liners are perfect for putting a smile on her face.
  • Motherhood is a fairytale in reverse. You start in a beautiful gown end up cleaning everyone’s messes.
  • Being a mom to a teenager will make you understand why some animals eat their young.
  • It’s sad when you sit around waiting for mom to make dinner and then you realize you are the mom.
  • There’s nothing quite like being told you’re wrong by someone who depends on you for food, clothing, and shelter.
  • Nothing is lost until mom can’t find it.
  • I told my mom I thought parenting got easier as the kids get older and she laughed so hard she cried a little.
  • My tween is mad at me and it could be because of any of the horrible things I did this morning: stood in the kitchen, poured coffee, stared out the window, said good morning, breathed…
  • “That’s it. I’m selling my kid on eBay.” “Don’t be silly! You made him. Sell him on Etsy.”
  • That feeling when your kid threatens not to talk to you for the rest of the day.
  • When you finally have time for a girls’ night and realize your entire wardrobe went out of style in 2003.
  • When your teenager asks for personal space and you remind her that she came out of your personal space.
  • I asked to switch seats on a plane because I was next to a crying baby. Evidently that doesn’t work if the baby is yours.
  • Mom’s recipe for iced coffee: 1. Have kids. 2. Make coffee. 3. Forget you made coffee. 4. Drink it cold.
  • They say women speak 20,000 words a day. I have a daughter who gets that done by breakfast.
Happy Mothers Day © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Bottom line

Devoting a day to honoring mothers is actually a tradition that dates back thousands of years to fertility rituals and festivals dedicated to celebrating mother-like deities and Mother Nature. The US version of the holiday has evolved from a ceremony honoring family matriarchs to a massive worldwide holiday. Even though it’s become commercialized, it’s still a great and meaningful way to honor the moms of the world and all that they do.

Worth Pondering…

When your children are teenagers, it’s important to have a dog so that someone in the house is happy to see you.

—Nora Ephron