The story of M-Day starts with the Ancient Egyptians’ mother of Horus and wife to Osiris, Isis. She was

revered as the ideal wife & mother. The veneration of motherhood was continued by the Ancient Greeks and

Romans. The goddess Cybele was portrayed wearing a long belted flowing dress with a whole body covering

veil. A later version of Cybele (and the most widely accepted one) was promoted in the Aegean world and in Rome.

It shows her more human like, but still of great power. She is seen with one hand resting on an attendant lion

with her other hand holding a tympanon, a circular frame drum like tambourine (paganwiccan.about.com/od/

romandeities). She is almost the prototype of today’s American woman with great motherly instincts,

tenderness and great strength.

Another Greek “mothering” deity was Rhea. She was known as “the mother of gods”. In the 4th century BCE,

classical Greeks saw her as the mother of the Olympian goddesses and gods. The Romans identified her with

Magna Mater (their form of Cybele), and the Goddess Ops (ancienthistory.about.com/rgodsandgoddesses). The

point being that mythology gives motherhood a DEITY status.


Once a major tradition in the UK & other parts of Europe (during the 16th century), Mothering Sunday fell on

the 4th Sunday in Lent and was originally seen as a time when the faithful would return to their “mother

church” or their “home parish” for a special service and for bringing her gifts. Some have said that the

western idea of gifting human mothers has been seeded by Mothering Sunday. In 1870, suffragette, Julia

Ward Howe wrote the “Mother’s Day Proclamation,” which asked ALL mothers to come together for

world peace every June 2. M-day would later be used to advocate for women’s rights, as well. (In 1968 Coretta

Scott King, brought awareness to underprivileged women & children via a M-Day march. In the 1970s women’s groups brought

attention to equal rights & access to childcare through the pulpit of M-Day.)

Anna Jarvis is credited with creating M-Day in 1908. (It was celebrated in many US cities including Grafton, WV &

Philly, PA where she was personally involved). Jarvis firmly believed that the M-Day was a religious celebration (with

a “house of God” being the proper venue. It was proclaimed an official US holiday in 1914 by Woodrow Wilson.) Upon the

success of M-Day #1, Jarvis (who was never a mother herself) tirelessly promoted M-Day through her

organization (The M-Day Internat’l Assn). She stridently stated that American holidays were MALE biased in their

inception and festing. She urged newspapers & politicians to adopt M-Day. Some even argued that Jarvis

had created it b/c of her great frustration with males being more valued (especially, since she had an abusive, alcoholic

father). Others offered the more accepted view that she just dearly loved & appreciated her mother as she

actually grew closer to her mother as an adult.

By 1920, Jarvis had become appalled with how the holiday had been commercialized. She outwardly

protested the holiday and subsequently urged people to stop buying M-Day gifts. She was so outraged by its

commercialism that she tried to halt the creation of F-Day b/c of its strong commercialism anchors

(History.com) and the fact that it was a “knock off” holiday.

In final view M-Day bloomed into one of the most successful holiday slogans ever, “Say It With Flowers”

(1918) by the Society of American Florists (L.E. Schmidt, Consumer Rites, 1995). There are those who claimed

that the motherly image that was part of this print campaign bares a resemblance to Anna Jarvis (or perhaps to

her mother). While dwarfed by the Xmas holiday season ($675B ± today) it contends with V-Day as the 2nd

most important comm’l holiday in the US at $21.2B (NRF) in 2015.


We shall list some of the world’s top economies by GDPs (CIA World Factbook) and note their M-Day’s

celebrations as of 2013. The Top 20 GDPs of the world (225 nation’s ±) account for 62% of the world’s

GDPs. We also list other nations of interest:

Rank Country GDP M-Day Celebration by Date & Type of Celebration

1 China $19.51T 2nd Sun in May, gifting to help poor mothers

3 US $17.97T 2nd Sun in May, thx to Anna Jarvis, gifting to $21.2B in 2015

4 India $8.03T 2nd Sun in May, specials acts of kindness

5 Japan $4.66T 2nd Sun in May, gifting

6 Germany $3.84T 2nd Sun in May, gifting

7 Russia $3.47T Last Sun of Nov, contribution of soviet women to communism

8 Brazil $3.12T 2nd Sun in May, gifting

10 UK $2.66T Mothering Sun (4th Sun in Lent), gifting

11 France $2.65T Last Sun of May, gifting

12 Mexico $2.22T Dia de las Madres on 5/10

17 Canada $1.63T 2nd Sun in May, gifting

18 Turkey $1.58T 2nd Sun in May, (gifting unknown)

19 Australia $1.49T 2nd Sun in May, gifting

20 Iran $1.38T 20 Jumada al-thni (6th mo of Islamic Calendar) and diff day every yr in the Gregorian calendar

23 Nigeria $1.11T 4th Sun of Lent, no gifting indication

50 Ukraine $0.33T 2nd Sun in May BUT Ukraine also recognizes Intern’l Woman’s Day (as does Russia)

55 Israel $0.28T Shevat 30 of Jewish calendar (b/t 1/30 & 3/1),no gifting

Sources: CIA World Factbook, Clareflorist.uk, WHSV-TV3 & Wikipedia

(It is also known b-day of Fatimah)

About bernacmd

For over 24 years, University of Detroit Mercy Marketing Professor Michael Bernacchi, Ph.D., J.D, has produced "uNDER tHE mIKE-rOSCOPE", a newsletter discussing current "marketing and advertising¹s bends, trends & ends." A well-know fixture in Detroit and national media, UDM's marketing guru has made several appearances on CNN's "Talk Back Live," the Voice of America worldwide radio network (VOA), ABC, CBS, NBC, MSNBC and on the pages of Sports Illustrated, Time, TV Guide, the New York Times, USA Today, the Wall Street Journal and the Washington Post, to name a few. At University of Detroit Mercy, he has taught courses in Marketing Management, Consumer Behavior, Marketing Communications, Research and Corporate Social Responsibility and Sports and Entertainment Marketing. Michael Bernacchi can be reached at 313-993-1116 or bernacmd@udmercy.edu. Please appropriately attribute the following for their work on uNDER tHE mIKE-rOSCOPE: Yen Ju Lee Robert Rouse Vidhyasagar Natarajan Eric Baumgardner & Ian Young
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