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13 Things You Didn’t Know About Mother’s Day

We bet you never knew these facts about why Mother's Day is so important.

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Housewives with Union Jacks, wave to some of the men, all Canadians, when they marched from the docks after disembarking onAP/REX/Shutterstock

It was created by a mom

It was all started by a mom, of course. Ann Reeves Jarvis arranged Mothers’ Friendship Day in West Virginia back in the 1860s, and she had a surprisingly serious purpose. A social activist (and mother of 13), Jarvis hoped the special day would quiet the seething animosity between the Union and Confederate soldiers, in addition to their families and neighbors, at the end of the Civil War. Check out these moving Mother’s Day traditions from around the world.

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UNITED STATES - CIRCA 1960's : A stamp printed in United States. Mother's Day postal stamp. Adaption of Whistler's portrait of his mother. United States - CIRCA 1960'sMichael Rega/Shutterstock

Her daughter wanted it national

Her daughter took it very seriously too. After Ann Jarvis died in 1905, her daughter, Anna M. Jarvis, made it her mission to take Mother’s Day national. Anna never had kids, but you could say Mother’s Day was her baby. She campaigned for years against what she saw as its commercialization, from candy to store-bought cards to a 1934 postage stamp. “If the American people are not willing to protect Mother’s Day from the hordes of money schemers that would overwhelm it with their schemes, then we shall cease having a Mother’s Day,” she wrote.

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Woodrow Wilson 28th President of of U S Seated at His Desk and Holding A Document 1856 - 1924Historia/REX/Shutterstock

Wilson made it a holiday

Tommy loved his mommy. It was President Thomas Woodrow Wilson (Tommy to his family) who made Mother’s Day a national holiday in 1914, 26 years after his ­mother’s death. “I remember how I clung to her (a laughed-at mamma’s boy) till I was a great big fellow,” Wilson wrote in a letter to his wife, “but love of the best womanhood came to me and entered my heart through those apron-strings.” Read more about the surprising history of Mother’s Day.

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A lot of gold medals with yellow ribbons on a silver tray, awards of champions, sport achievements, first place, prize for the winnerCherednychenko Ihor/Shutterstock

The French once gave medals to their mothers

After their enormous losses in World War I—more than 4 percent of the population was killed—the French were desperate to rebuild the country. So the government celebrated Mother’s Day in 1920 by presenting women who had five children with a bronze medal. Mothers of eight got silver, and those with ten­—or more!—got the gold.

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Mariachi Musicians Pedro Gutierrez/Shutterstock

It’s a big celebration in Mexico

In Mexico, it starts with a bang—and a strum and a toot. Día de las Madres (which is always on May 10) is one of the biggest holidays south of the border for ­restaurants—and for mariachi bands. Because of the high demand, families often hire a band months in advance to perform just for Mom, and children rouse her in the morning with the traditional song “Las ­Mañanitas” as a precursor of the show to come.

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Two happy women talking in cafe. Aged woman and her adult daughter drinking coffee at cafe. Mothers day.kikovic/Shutterstock

Expect a crowd at the restaurant

More people eat at restaurants on Mother’s Day than on any other day of the year, with 92 million Americans dining out with Mom. (The second-busiest day: Valentine’s Day.)

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Young woman using a touchscreen smartphone. pcruciatti/Shutterstock

There are a lot of calls

Or you could just call her. Mother’s Day is also the busiest day of the year for phone traffic in countries all around the globe.

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Various color of carnation flowers in bulk at Flower MarketYuttapol Phetkong/Shutterstock

You can never go wrong with a bouquet of carnations

Americans spent $2.4 billion on Mother’s Day flowers in 2016 (compared with $792 million on cards). Carnations are the traditional bloom of choice for Mom (even Anna Jarvis sent them). In case you’re wondering whether you’re a big enough spender, the average Mother’s Day bouquet goes for $29.

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Woman's hand in yellow rubber glove wiping a sink. Cleaning concept.Paul Biryukov/Shutterstock

She is definitely worth the money’s Mother’s Day Index estimates that it would cost $67,619 a year to hire someone to do all the household tasks that Mom does for free: cooking, cleaning, kissing boo-boos. That’s about as much as the average accountant or chiropractor makes. These are the best movies to celebrate mom on Mother’s Day.

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indian muslim baby sleepingwong yu liang/Shutterstock

This mother deserves a hand (and a nap)

India’s Daljinder Kaur was believed to be in her early 70s when she gave birth to a bouncing baby boy on April 19, 2016. Kaur and her 79-year-old husband, Mohinder Singh Gill, spent decades trying to have a baby—and finally succeeded after saving up enough money for fertility treatments.

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African Pregnant woman touching her 39 weeks bellyJoana Lopes/Shutterstock

Becoming a future mom is good for your brain

Pregnancy not only alters a woman’s skin and hair but may also affect her brain. According to a small 2010 study published by the American Psychological Association, the changes include a small but significant increase in gray matter in the parts of the brain responsible for sensory perception, reasoning, and judgment. These changes may play a role in shaping maternal behavior and motivation in the development of higher cognitive function.

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Mother holding head of her newborn son in hands. The baby on hands at mum. Loving mother hand holding cute sleeping newborn baby childHTeam/Shutterstock

Mama is always the same

She’s got the same name in every mother tongue. Babies in nearly every country on the planet speak the word mama in almost exactly the same way.

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A happy family. Happy mother hugging her child smiling, smiling next smeetsya.Otets. The concept of a happy family.Studio Romantic/Shutterstock

But don’t accuse her of smothering you

Of the mother lode of words with mother as their root, perhaps the most recent is mother­board: the main circuit of a computer. A surprise to some is that smother doesn’t come from the same source—no matter how much you think it’s in your mom’s DNA. These beautiful Mother’s Day quotes will help you show mom how much you care.

Reader's Digest
Originally Published in Reader's Digest

Lauren Cahn
Lauren Cahn is a New York-based writer whose work has appeared regularly on Reader's Digest, The Huffington Post, and a variety of other publications since 2008. She covers life and style, popular culture, law, religion, health, fitness, yoga, entertaining and entertainment. Lauren is also an author of crime fiction; her first full-length manuscript, The Trust Game, was short-listed for the 2017 CLUE Award for emerging talent in the genre of suspense fiction.

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