This year, Mother’s Day falls on 10 May 2020. We talk through its American origins and its significance to people around the world.

What is Mother’s Day?

Mother’s Day is a day for people to celebrate motherhood and show gratitude towards mothers and mother figures. Though it is widely observed in countries all around the world, the actual date of this annual event varies depending on which part of the world you’re in. Singapore celebrates this occasion on the second Sunday in May each year, following American tradition, which falls on 10 May 2020 this year. 

Mother's Day

The History of Mother’s Day

The official Mother’s Day holiday as we know it today originated in the United States at the turn of the 20th century. In 1905, following her mother’s death, a woman named Anna Jarvis began pushing for a national holiday to celebrate mothers in an effort to memorialise her mother. In 1908, with financial support from a Philadelphia department store owner called John Wanamaker, Jarvis arranged a public memorial for her mother in her hometown of Grafton, West Virginia. That same day, thousands of people attended a separate Mother’s Day event at one of Wanamaker’s retail stores in Philadelphia, marking the first large-scale celebration of the holiday.  

Over the ensuing years, Jarvis continued to push for official recognition of her holiday, initiating a massive letter-writing campaign to newspapers and politicians as well as creating the Mother’s Day International Association to help promote her cause. By 1912, many states, towns and churches had adopted the event as an official holiday and, in 1914, President Woodrow Wilson signed a proclamation formally recognising the second Sunday in May as Mother’s Day. 

The tradition eventually made its way around the globe and today, Mother’s Day is celebrated around the world, though not every country celebrates on the same day. Thailand, for instance, celebrates the occasion on 12 August, the birthday of the current Queen, while the UK observes the celebration on the fourth Sunday of Lent. Regardless of when people choose to celebrate the event, however, the essence of the holiday remains the same: expressing appreciation towards the person who has provided love and care for you throughout your life. After all, as Jarvis once said, she is the woman who has done more for you than anyone in the world. 


Related Articles

Vesak Day: How is It Celebrated in Singapore?

Singapore Food Guide: 14 Famous Local Dishes You Should Try

Singapore Religion: The 5 Most Common Religions