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Mother's Day in United States

Quick Facts

Mother's Day celebrates the role of mothers and mother figures.

Local names

Mother's DayEnglish
Día de la MadreSpanish
See list of observations below
Mother's Day in the United States is annually held on the second Sunday of May. It celebrates motherhood and it is a time appreciate mothers and mother figures. Many people give gifts, cards, flowers, candy, a meal in a restaurant or other treats to their mother and mother figures, including grandmothers, great-grandmothers, stepmothers, and foster mothers.

Mothers and mother figures are remembered on Mother's Day. Illustration based on artwork from ©iStockphoto.com/JBryson

What do people do?

Many people send cards or gifts to their mother or mother figure or make a special effort to visit her. Common Mother's Day gifts are flowers, chocolate, candy, clothing, jewelry and treats, such as a beauty treatment or trip to a spa. Some families organize an outing for all of their members or hold a special meal at home or in a restaurant. In the days and weeks before Mother's Day, many schools help their pupils to prepare a handmade card or small gift for their mothers.

Public life

Mother's Day is not a federal holiday. Organizations, businesses and stores are open or closed, just as they are on any other Sunday in the year. Public transit systems run to their normal Sunday schedules. Restaurants may be busier than usual, as some people take their mothers out for a treat.


The origins of Mother's Day are attributed to different people. Many believe that two women, Julia Ward Howe and Anna Jarvis were important in establishing the tradition of Mother's Day in the United States. Other sources say that Juliet Calhoun Blakely initiated Mother’s Day in Albion, Michigan, in the late 1800s. Her sons paid tribute to her each year and urged others to honor their mothers.

Around 1870, Julia Ward Howe called for Mother's Day to be celebrated each year to encourage pacifism and disarmament amongst women. It continued to be held in Boston for about ten years under her sponsorship, but died out after that.

In 1907, Anna Jarvis held a private Mother's Day celebration in memory of her mother, Ann Jarvis, in Grafton, West Virginia. Ann Jarvis had organized "Mother's Day Work Clubs" to improve health and cleanliness in the area where she lived. Anna Jarvis launched a quest for Mother's Day to be more widely recognized. Her campaign was later financially supported by John Wanamaker, a clothing merchant from Philadelphia.

In 1908, she was instrumental in arranging a service in the Andrew's Methodist Episcopal Church in Grafton, West Virginia, which was attended by 407 children and their mothers. The church has now become the International Mother's Day Shrine. It is a tribute to all mothers and has been designated as a National Historic Landmark.

Mother's Day has become a day that focuses on generally recognizing mothers' and mother figures' roles. Mother's Day has also become an increasingly important event for businesses in recent years. This is particularly true of restaurants and businesses manufacturing and selling cards and gift items.

About Mother's Day in other countries

Read more about Mother's Day.

Mother's Day Observances

WeekdayDateYearNameHoliday typeWhere it is observed
SunMay 111980Mother's DayObservance 
SunMay 101981Mother's DayObservance 
SunMay 91982Mother's DayObservance 
SunMay 81983Mother's DayObservance 
SunMay 131984Mother's DayObservance 
SunMay 121985Mother's DayObservance 
SunMay 111986Mother's DayObservance 
SunMay 101987Mother's DayObservance 
SunMay 81988Mother's DayObservance 
SunMay 141989Mother's DayObservance 
SunMay 131990Mother's DayObservance 
SunMay 121991Mother's DayObservance 
SunMay 101992Mother's DayObservance 
SunMay 91993Mother's DayObservance 
SunMay 81994Mother's DayObservance 
SunMay 141995Mother's DayObservance 
SunMay 121996Mother's DayObservance 
SunMay 111997Mother's DayObservance 
SunMay 101998Mother's DayObservance 
SunMay 91999Mother's DayObservance 
SunMay 142000Mother's DayObservance 
SunMay 132001Mother's DayObservance 
SunMay 122002Mother's DayObservance 
SunMay 112003Mother's DayObservance 
SunMay 92004Mother's DayObservance 
SunMay 82005Mother's DayObservance 
SunMay 142006Mother's DayObservance 
SunMay 132007Mother's DayObservance 
SunMay 112008Mother's DayObservance 
SunMay 102009Mother's DayObservance 
SunMay 92010Mother's DayObservance 
SunMay 82011Mother's DayObservance 
SunMay 132012Mother's DayObservance 
SunMay 122013Mother's DayObservance 
SunMay 112014Mother's DayObservance 
SunMay 102015Mother's DayObservance 

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