One of the top 10 Google searches today was the question “When is Mothers Day 2010?”-a query that did not totally surprise me. Several times in recent weeks, while making plans with other people, the question of “when is Mothers Day” cropped up. I let my friends in on the secret code-Mother’s Day in the United States is always the second Sunday of the month, a tradition that goes back to at least 1914 when President Woodrow Wilson proclaimed it an official holiday thanks to the heavy lobbying of a fanatically devoted daughter named Anna Jarvis (although the concept of Mother’s Day was promoted as early as 1870 by feminist and pacifist Julia Ward Howe to honor the role of mothers as shapers of their children’s political beliefs).
When is Mother’s Day 2010?
lendar year 2010, Mother’s Day is May 9, the second Sunday in May.
Like Father’s Day, Thanksgiving and many other holidays, Mother’s Day follows a predictable pattern every year. It is always in May and it is always on a Sunday-the second Sunday to be exact, for good reason. It would be awkward to have Mother’s Day on a Tuesday-how could you enjoy an overpriced brunch of cold eggs benedict and stale eclairs with mom if you have to be at work at 9 a.m.? Nor could Mother’s Day be celebrated in February since the groundhogs, lovebirds and dead presidents already have that month sewn up.
Father’s Day, in case you wondered, is always celebrated the third Sunday of June in the United States. Mothers would never go for that time slot since it is too close to high school graduations, and mothers would have to share the spotlight with their ungrateful teenagers. Besides, moms and grads don’t rhyme.
Mother’s Day Too Commercial?
As with Christmas, Mother’s Day has become a commercial boondoggle for American businesses, especially florists, greeting card companies, long distance phone providers and restaurants. Ironically, the commercialization of the holiday annoyed the holiday’s chief promoter Anna Jarvis, a trend that literally drove her crazy (she died in a sanitarium). “I wanted it to be a day of sentiment, not profit,” Jarvis said of the holiday she helped create.
Jarvis was particularly critical of two modern Mother’s Day staples, greeting cards and candy. “A printed card means nothing except that you are too lazy to write to the woman who has done more for you than anyone in the world. And candy! You take a box to mother-and then eat most of it yourself. A pretty sentiment!”
‘Mother’ of Mother’s Day Denounces the Holiday
Anna Jarvis eventually denounced the holiday she had devoted so much energy to creating and whose date, the second Sunday in May, commemorates the death of her own mother. Jarvis reportedly even sued florists for infringing on her Mother’s Day trademark (she held trademarks for both the phrases “Mother’s Day” and “second Sunday in May”) and in 1934 Anna Jarvis tried to get the U.S. Post Office to use a picture of her own mother on a postage stamp to commemorate Mother’s Day instead of that of the far more recognizable sentimental favorite “Whistler’s Mother.”
Anna Jarvis ended up denouncing the commercial circus into which Mother’s Day had evolved, and many clergymen of her day agreed with her. According to columnist Bill Kaufman, “clergymen urged that Americans shun the commercial interests and honor their mothers with a hand-picked dandelion and either a hug or a hand-written letter.”
As the mother of two very grateful, kind and considerate daughters, I can say the hug or hand-written letter would be most welcome. The dandelion? Not so much (although please do feel free to weed them from the yard).
Oh, and in case you forgot, Mother’s Day in 2010 is May 9.
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