When Is Mother's Day? 2023 Holiday Date, History, and Prayer
- Contributing Writers Edited by Liz Auld
- 2023 8 May
When Is Mother's Day in 2023?
This year, Mother's Day will be Sunday, May 14, 2023.
Mother's Day is celebrated in the United States and all over the world, though the dates may differ from the U.S. date; this holiday is always celebrated on a Sunday. President Woodrow Wilson made the holiday official in 1914 and marked it to occur on the second Sunday of every May.
It's a day where mothers, daughters, aunts, step-mothers, grandmothers, and important women in our lives are all celebrated. It's a day to remind a special woman in your life how much you love her and how valued she is. Some people present, gifts, flowers, and cards; most important, however, is just spending quality time together. Phone traffic is the highest on Mother's Day than any other day of the year, up to 37% higher.
If you don't have that kind of relationship with your biological parent, you can send a card or invite someone out to lunch who has had a big impact in your life. If you have lost your loved one, Mother's Day can be a hard day of grief. Spend time in prayer thanking God for the time you had with that person and asking Him to grant you peace throughout the day; remember the good memories you have of the person and reach out to a younger mom or a close friend to spend your day in fellowship. If you prefer to be alone, look at photos and reflect, take a walk outside if it's nice, journal a prayer of gratitude, and find rest in your heavenly Father's presence.
The History of Mother's Day
While there have been festivals in the past among Greeks and Romans honoring mother goddesses, there was also an early Christian festival in Europe called Mothering Sunday, which encouraged people to return to their home church on the fourth Sunday of Lent. This practice faded and later merged with the modern version of Mother's Day. All across the world, over 46 countries honor mothers with a special day, but not all nations celebrate on the same day. We honor mothers with cards, candy, flowers and dinner out. But have you ever considered how this became a legal holiday in the United States? Mother's Day was first suggested in the United States by Julia Ward Howe, writer of the Battle Hymn of the Republic. She suggested that this day be dedicated to peace. Miss Howe organized Mother's Day meetings in Boston, Mass. yearly.
In 1877, Mrs. Juliet Calhoun Blakely inadvertently set Mother's Day in motion. On Sunday, May 11, 1877, which was Mrs. Blakely's birthday, the pastor of her Methodist Episcopal Church left the pulpit abruptly, being distraught over the behavior of his son. Mrs. Blakely stepped to the pulpit to take over the remainder of the service and called for other mothers to join her. Mrs. Blakely's two sons were so touched by her gesture that they vowed to return to their hometown of Albion, Michigan every year to mark their mother's birthday and to pay tribute to her. In addition, the two brothers also urged business associates and those they met while traveling as salesman to honor their mothers on the second Sunday of May. They also urged the Methodist Episcopal Church in Albion to set aside the second Sunday of each May to honor all mothers, and especially their own.
While there were local celebrations honoring mothers in the late 1800's, it was largely due to the efforts of Anna Jarvis that Mothers Day became a national holiday in the United States. Anna's mother, Mrs. Anna M. Jarvis, had been instrumental in developing "Mothers Friendship Day" which was part of the healing process of the Civil War. In honor of her mother, Miss Jarvis wanted to set aside a day to honor all mothers, living and dead. In 1907, Miss Anna began a campaign to establish a national Mother's Day. She persuaded her mother's church in Grafton, West Virginia to celebrate Mother's day on the second anniversary of her mother's death, the 2nd Sunday of May. By the next year Mother's Day was also celebrated in her own city of Philadelphia.
Miss Jarvis and her supporters began to write to godly ministers, evangelists, businessmen, and politicians in their crusade to establish a national Mother's Day. This campaign was a success. By 1911, Mother's Day was celebrated in almost every state in the Union. In 1914, President Woodrow Wilson made the official announcement proclaiming Mother's Day as a national holiday that was to be held each year on the second Sunday of May. The one-woman crusade of Anna Jarvis is often overlooked in History books. Women during the early 1900s were engaged in many other reform efforts that the history behind Mother's Day is often neglected. But it is likely that it was these other reforms and the avenues they opened for women that paved the way for Anna Jarvis to succeed in her campaign for Mother's Day.
According to History.com,
"The American incarnation of Mother’s Day was created by Anna Jarvis in 1908 and became an official U.S. holiday in 1914." Interestingly enough, History tells us that she later detested the commercialization of the holiday and desired to have it removed from calendars.
"It was on May 10, 1908, that Jarvis sent 500 white carnations to Andrews Methodist Episcopal Church in her hometown of Grafton, W.Va., in honor of her late mother Ann. That date, on which she also held a celebration in Philadelphia, where she lived at the time, is considered to be America’s first Mother’s Day celebration.
As she [Jarvis] spread the word about the holiday, she always traced it back to the moment when, in 1876, she heard her mother recite the following prayer after teaching a Sunday School lesson: 'I hope and pray that someone, sometime, will found a memorial mother’s day commemorating her for the matchless service she renders to humanity in every field of life.' When her mother died in 1905, she vowed to fulfill that dream."
Her original idea, based on her mother's prayer, was to have a larger celebration in the form of a service celebrating mothers (plural) and focusing on less fortunate mothers, vs an individual focus on one's own mother and the commercialization that followed.
Grieving on Mother's Day
Sharon Betters, who lost her son Mark when he was only 16, encourages mothers who are grieving:
Mother’s Day is an opportunity to choose life when a piece of my heart aches for more of what will never be. Today I will choose a rose bush to plant in Mark’s name, as I have every year since his Homegoing. Last year the rose's name was Lasting Peace. This year, I hope to find one that reminds me of God's faithful love. It's a day I look forward to spending time with our other children and receiving lots of hugs and kisses from our grandchildren. I will hold them close and absorb the life that flows freely from their hearts into mine. And it's a day I will be more sensitive to those around me whose hearts are breaking because this day of all days reminds them of what they do not have. I think of the new young widow and the mom whose daughter died a few months ago. I think of the mom who took her own life and the one who faces her first Mother's Day after a miscarriage. I think of the mom whose daughter refuses to surrender to God's love and intentionally hurts her mother at every opportunity. But then I will remember how God used the clouds of grief in my life as His chariot and how He charged through the dark sky and held me tightly in His grip as I struggled to reconcile His sovereignty and His love. And I will pray for each of these women to experience the swoosh of the chariot as God rides deep into their hearts and encourages them to trust Him with their disappointments. ~ Excerpted from How to Cope with Grief on Mother's Day by Sharon Betters
A Single Mother's Reflection on Mother's Day
We are never alone in this life. I have come to realize that although I am a single mom, I have never been on this journey alone. As a matter of fact, I’m not even a single mom. My kids have the best Father, and I have the best guide! Years ago, I quit parenting. I told God I was finished, didn’t want the job any longer. Instead, I asked Him to always do the parenting through me, something I have prayed most every day since then. I’ve made many mistakes along the way, but I am convinced His grace has been sufficient, He has picked up the pieces and put them together as only He can. And I pray my kids understand they are never alone on this journey either, that God is always their personal guide whatever they are doing in this life.
And I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from God’s love. Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither our fears for today nor our worries about tomorrow—not even the powers of hell can separate us from God’s love.No power in the sky above or in the earth below—indeed, nothing in all creation will ever be able to separate us from the love of God that is revealed in Christ Jesus our Lord. -Romans 8:38-39
-Excerpted from A Single Mom's Mother's Day Reflections by Dena Johnson
A Prayer of Hope and Blessing for Mother's Day
Thank you for the gift of motherhood. Thank you for the blessing it is to be called "Mom." Thank you for the good plans you have in store for those who still wait to be a Mom. Thank you for the numerous spiritual children you have given to so many "spiritual moms" and mentors. We pray that you would fill this day with favor and grace as we honor Moms all around our nation.
We ask for comfort for those who are grieving loss and heartache, especially on this day. We ask for strength for those who wait for children to come back home. We ask for healing for those who have been hurt by relationships that were intended to be loving and nurturing. We ask for faith for those who will someday be Moms, who find themselves on a journey that seems so hard. We ask for great encouragement and grace to cover those who have made a brave and loving choice for adoption. We ask for incredible provision and care over every single parent mom who works so hard on behalf of her children. We ask that you would remind many of those who, though they do not have "physical" children, have the gift of being amazing hope-bringers to many spiritual children they've been blessed to nurture through these years.
God, thank you, for the gift of life. Thank you that your heart is for us and that you are with us, in all our unique journeys and pathways. Thank you that you are Sovereign over every part of our lives. Thank you that your ways are perfect and you make our footsteps secure.
Today we pray for refreshing, for joy, for grace, for wisdom, for great peace...for all moms, for moms to be, and for women who nurture and lead.
In Jesus' Name, Amen.
-Excerpted from A Prayer of Hope and Blessing on Mother's Day by Debbie McDaniel
Find More Mother's Day Prayers Here
15 Women to Pray for This Mother's Day
Looking for Mother's Day card ideas? Here are 10 Extraordinary Things to Write in Your Mother's Day Card This Year
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