After Christmas and Halloween, Mother’s Day is perhaps the most popular holiday on the calendar. It is observed in different forms and on different days throughout the world. In the United States, Canada, Australia, much of western Europe, Japan, China, the Philippines, South Africa, and India, Mother’s Day is always the second Sunday in May. It’s a day set aside to honor and/or remember one’s mother.
“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.”
—Anna Jarvis, founder of Mother’s Day
(Read on to discover the meaning behind this unusual quote about this holiday.)
When did Mother’s Day Begin?
Although the ancient Greeks and Romans held festivals in honor of the mother goddesses Rhea and Cybele, the modern idea of Mother’s Day did not begin until about 175 years ago. Just before the American Civil War, Ann Reeves Jarvis helped start “Mothers’ Day Work Clubs” to teach women how to care for their children properly. After the war, she organized “Mothers’ Friendship Day,” when mothers would meet with former Union and Confederate soldiers to promote reconciliation. Another forerunner of Mother’s Day was promoted by the abolitionist and suffragette Julia Ward Howe, who in 1870 wrote the “Mother’s Day Proclamation,” asking mothers to unite in promoting world peace.
It wasn’t until the daughter of Ann Reeves Jarvis, Anna Jarvis, took up the cause of promoting a Mother’s Day specifically to honor mothers that the idea became a national movement. In 1908 Jarvis held a memorial ceremony to honor her mother’s memory in Grafton, West Virginia. Jarvis had cared for her mother as her mother’s health had declined. The idea for a day set aside to honor mothers quickly caught on until President Woodrow Wilson made Mother’s Day an official U.S. holiday in 1914.
Mother’s Day quickly spread in popularity, and Jarvis just as quickly saw the rapid commercialization of the holiday as the exploitation of what was intended to be a special day of reverence for one’s mother. Oddly, she spent more of her life trying to eradicate the holiday than she did trying to create it.
Jarvis railed against the florist, card, and candy industries cashing in on Mother’s Day. She called for a boycott against florists who raised the price of the symbol of Mother’s Day – the white carnation – every May. At one point in the 1920s, her threat to sue the New York Mother’s Day Committee, which included the state’s governor and the city’s mayor, over plans for a large Mother’s Day celebration resulted in the event being canceled. When she crashed the American War Mothers convention, Jarvis was charged with disorderly conduct.
It should be noted that in the United Kingdom and the Republic of Ireland, the origins of the holiday known as “Mothering Sunday” had nothing to do with honoring one’s mother, although nowadays in those countries, Mothering Sunday has become the equivalent of Mother’s Day.
Mothering Sunday is always held on the fourth Sunday of Lent, and that should give you a clue as to its genesis as a religious holiday. This Mid-Lent Sunday – or Laetare Sunday – also known as Refreshment Sunday, is a day to take a break from the penitential Lenten fasting. The day’s relation to mothering comes from the Scripture passages read during the Mass as far back as the 8th century. Since the 16th century, it had been a custom for families to attend a church service together in the nearest important church or cathedral – their “Mother” church.
Mother’s Day traditions
In North America, Mother’s Day traditionally involves presenting moms with flowers, cards, and other gifts. Taking mom out to dinner is also very popular, and most restaurants that day will be mobbed with diners. Reservations are a must!
Americans spend upwards of 25 billion dollars each year on the holiday, second only to the combined spending during the Christmas/New Year/Hanukkah/Thanksgiving season. (Mother’s Day even tops Valentine’s Day in spending!). Families also celebrate by giving mothers a day off from activities like cooking or other household chores. Mothers and other women will be honored at worship services on Mother’s Day weekend. The honoring of mothers is not limited to just biological mothers, but anyone who has stepped up to raise children that may or may not be their own.
Flowers are a popular gift for mom as bouquets, and potted blooms account for more than two-thirds of all Mother’s Day gifts. Even though it was the white carnation that originally became popular, red carnations are also considered the official Mother’s Day flower. More importantly, a bouquet of mom’s favorite variety of flowers is the one she most would like to receive. The more than fifteen thousand retail florists in the United States will sell about 2.8 billion stems of cut flowers for Mother’s Day. That’s 69% of all annual flower sales. Most of the flowers are brought in from Columbia, which accounts for 78% of imports.
Another American Mother’s Day tradition is the wearing of flowers. It is said that wearing red or pink flowers shows that one’s mother is still alive. If a person wears a white flower, it means that mother has passed away. Some people place white carnations on the grave of their mother.
Cards and calls
The greeting card industry relies heavily on Mother’s Day sales to survive. Some 113 million cards are sent each year on the holiday. Surely, though, mom’s most memorable and cherished cards are those made by hand by her young children.
Phone calls to mom are also a popular thing to do on Mother’s Day. There is nothing like hearing one’s child’s own voice on the other end of the line, especially if that child lives far away. Likewise, video chats are more popular now than ever.
Mother’s Day or Mothers’ Day?
When Anna Jarvis campaigned for a national holiday honoring mothers, she made special note of the correct placement of the possessive apostrophe. She felt strongly that the holiday should be a personal celebration of one’s mother, thus she preferred the singular possessive Mother’s to the plural possessive Mothers’. Sometimes the holiday is spelled without an apostrophe.
Mother’s Day around the World
As you might imagine, Mother’s Day is celebrated around the world in various ways on various days with various customs.
In Thailand, for example, Mother’s Day is always celebrated in August on the birthday of Sirikit, the Queen mother of Thailand. Mother’s Day in Nepal is based on the Bikram Sambat Nepali calendar, which follows the positions of the sun, moon and planets, thus this holiday lands in April or May. Mother’s Day is known in Nepal as Aama ko Mukh Herne Din (“day to see mother’s face”). For those whose mothers have died, people visit the legendary natural pond Mata-Tirtha outside of Kathmandu, where they believe they will see their mother’s face when they peer into the pond.
Most eastern European countries celebrate Mother’s Day on March 8, which is also International Women’s Day. This may be due to Soviet-era influence on the region. Vladimir Lenin, founder of Russia’s Communist Party, declared Woman’s Day an official Soviet holiday in 1917. Today, however, Russia’s official Mother’s Day holiday is the last Sunday in November as established by President Yeltsin in 1998. Since November is a very cold month in Russia, fresh-cut flowers are hard to come by, so Russians resort to the more hardy chrysanthemum as a floral gift for mom.
In Albania, people observe Mother’s Day on March 8, and is generally celebrated in many of the same ways as it would be around the world. One Albanian tradition is to give a simple gift of a mimosa sprig to mom.
In Germany, they celebrate Muttertag in May. However, the German tradition began in an unusual way when it was first celebrated in 1922 as a way to raise the country’s low birth rate. It was officially declared a German holiday by Hitler in 1933 when childbearing women were honored as heroes. Today, Germans honor their mothers similarly to how the rest of Europe does.
In Spain, Mother’s Day takes place on December 8, the Roman Catholic Feast of the Immaculate Conception. This celebrates what Christians believe was the day when Mary, the mother of Jesus, became with child through the Holy Spirit of God.
A day honoring moms was introduced in Egypt by journalist Mostafa Amin who convinced Egyptian president Gamal Nasser to create a national Mother’s Day in 1956. Ironically, when Amin was jailed for espionage several years later, the holiday was changed to “Family Day.” Many citizens protested, and the government changed it back to Mother’s Day.
Egypt (and most Arab countries) celebrate Mother’s Day on March 21st (vernal equinox). The date harkens back to the time of the pharaohs when the goddess Isis, a symbol of motherhood, was revered with boats full of flowers floating down the Nile to mark the coming of spring.
In Dubai, Mothers are treated to a special day of dining out, gourmet baking, flowered baskets, and perhaps even a day at a spa! Prestigious department stores such as Bloomingdale’s and Harvey Nichols offer special pampering packages.
Mother’s Day in Ethiopia comes in the fall, when people gather to sing songs and feast as part of Antrosht, a multi-day celebration honoring motherhood. The children bring ingredients to make a traditional hash. Girls bring butter, cheese, vegetables and spices, and the boys bring a bull or lamb. As the mother prepares the meat hash, she and her daughter(s) put butter on their faces and chests as part of the ritual.
Mother’s Day is not an official public holiday in Kenya, but most people still observe it every second Sunday of May. Like elsewhere, it is typical to make a card for Mom and to write a poem or other special message inside. Many people also do the chores for their mother on Mother’s Day, take her out to dinner, or go on a family picnic. The most common gift ideas for Mum in Kenya include flowers, clothing, jewelry, and handmade gifts like decorations.
Mother’s Day is a unique day in Nigerian churches when everybody puts on their dancing shoes for a musical atmosphere in the worship service. The special moment is when the children are called upon to recite a Mother’s Day poem to their mothers, and each presents them with a gift.
Mother’s Day in Mexico is always celebrated on May 10. Children write cards, deliver flowers, and give gifts to mothers. Children also help with housework, churches have special masses, and music, food, and family gatherings are all traditional ways to honor Mexican mothers.
In Costa Rica, Mother’s Day is a national holiday observed on August 15, which is the Roman Catholic holy day celebrating the Assumption of Mary, the mother of Jesus. Costa Rican mothers are treated like true royalty, receiving gifts as large as appliances. Some families may even raise a pig to be cooked that day.
Peruvians also honor their mothers in August, and they celebrate Mother Earth, or Pachamama, a goddess revered by Andean indigenous peoples. In Inca mythology, Pachamama is a fertility goddess who presides over planting and harvesting.
In Bolivia, Dia de la Madre is the most celebrated holiday besides Christmas. Mother’s Day is always May 27, a day that memorializes Bolivian women who resisted the Spanish Army in 1812. Hundreds of women, children and elders were slaughtered. After they gained independence from Spain, Bolivia declared May 27 as the “Day of the heroines of Coronillas” after the place where the women were killed.
Resources for Mother’s Day
Help Teaching offers these educational resources:
Geography Awareness Week, also known as GeoWeek, is celebrated every year during the third week of November. The goal of the week is to get people excited about geography and help them learn more about the world around them. Every year, we present fun facts to help you get excited about Geography Awareness Week. This year is no exception. In honor of Geography Awareness Week, we have rounded up 10 fun facts about one of the most majestic and awe-inspiring geographical features on Earth – mountains!
What is a Mountain?
Did you know that there are no universally agreed upon rules for what makes a mountain a mountain?
The general agreement is that a mountain is a landform that is taller than the surrounding area and bigger than a hill. Of course, there is also no agreed upon definition of a hill either.
Because there is not an official definition of a mountain, countries define what a mountain is in different ways. For example, Ireland and the United Kingdom require a mountain to be over two thousand feet tall to be considered a mountain, while the United States has determined that mountains only have to be over one thousand feet tall. This means that a mountain in one country might be considered a hill in another.
Mountains are found all over the world. Each of the seven continents have its own maintains. Here are some fun facts about the mountains on each of the continents.
1.) North America: Oldest Mountains
The Appalachians are over 480 million years old. They were formed during the Ordovician period when the North American plate crashed into another plate during the creation of the super-continent of Pangaea. Once as tall as the Rocky Mountains, the Appalachians have been worn down over the many millions of years to the low peaks seen today.
2.) South America: Longest Mountain Range
The Andes extend over forty three hundred miles through Venezuela, Ecuador, Peru, Bolivia, Chile, and Argentina. The mountains were pushed up when to the Nazca and Antarctic plates started slipping under the South American Plate. The highest volcanoes in the world, and the highest mountains outside of Asia, are located the Andes mountain range.
3.) Asia: Highest Mountains
With over ten mountains over 8000 meters tall, the Himalayas are the tallest mountains in the world. Mount Everest, with an elevation over twenty nine thousand feet, is officially the tallest mountain in the world and is located in the Himalayas.
There is, though, some dispute over whether or not Mount Everest is actually the tallest mountain. Mountain height is measured by how high the peak of a mountain is above sea level, not how tall the slopes of the mountain are. The base of Mount Everest sits in the Tibetan Plateau, which is over thirteen thousand feet above sea level, meaning that the slopes are around fifteen thousand feet. Denali in Alaska, on the other hand, has a base that is less than three thousand feet above sea level and slopes that are almost nineteen thousand feet.
The mountains are also only about 70 million years old, which means that they are also among the world’s youngest mountains. The Indian continental plate moves sixty-seven millimeters per year, which means that that the Himalayas are growing, albeit very slowly, each year.
4.) Africa: Tallest Free-Standing Mountain
Mount Kilimanjaro in Tanzania is a volcano that is not part of any mountain range. The mountain has three distinct volcanic cones, two of which are extinct, but the third is only dormant and could erupt again at some point. It is unclear when Mt. Kilimanjaro last erupted, but it is suspected to have been during the 19th century. Because of its height, Mount Kilimanjaro is one of the only mountains in Africa to have a permanent snowcap.
5.) Australia: Smallest Mountain
Not every continent has tall mountains. Mount Wycheproof in Australia is officially the smallest mountain in the world. To most of the world Mount Wycheproof would barely be considered a hill. The mountain measures in at a staggering 486 ft above sea level. You would have to stack up almost sixty Mount Wycheproofs to reach the height of Mount Everest.
6.) Europe: Most Photographed Mountain
Though it is impossible to accurately verify, residents of the town of Zermatt, Switzerland claim that the nearby Matterhorn is the most photographed mountain in the world. Even if it is not the world’s most photographed mountain, the Matterhorn is an extremely popular tourist attraction and its image has become a symbol of Switzerland.
7.) Antarctica: Mountains Covered in the Most Snow
Did you know that even Antarctica has mountains? They might not be the highest or the longest mountains in the world, but the Gamburtsev Mountains are the only mountains that are completely covered with snow. No one has actually seen the mountains because they are currently buried under two thousand feet of snow and ice. From 2007 to 2009, scientists used ice penetrating radar to survey mountain range. From their findings it has been determined that the mountains probably are around 6,500 feet tall and resemble the Alps in Europe.
Do you have any fun mountain facts to share? If so, share them in the comments. For more fun geography facts, check out 10 Fun Facts for Geography Awareness Week and 10 More Fun Facts for Geography Awareness Week, and be sure to check back next year for even more facts!
If you’re looking for fun and engaging worksheets for elementary and middle school kids on geography and deserts, take a look at KidsKonnect.com, it’s got hundreds of Geography activities and topics related to Mount Everest, K2, Manaslu, Gasherbrum I and II, and more! For older students, be sure to check out Geography Revision for teaching resources that will save you hours of preparation time.
If you’ve ever worked in a school, you know who’s responsible for keeping everything together. Hint: It’s not the principal. It’s the school secretary. A good secretary has the ability to keep a school running smoothly. From ensuring the copier is always working to checking up on kids who are absent from school, the school secretary plays a very important role in a school community. In honor of Administrative Professionals’ Day, we’ve come up with 66 reasons to thank your school secretary. Of course, it doesn’t have to be a holiday for you to tell your school secretaries how much they mean to your school.
1. The school secretary is often the first person to greet visitors to the school.
2. The school secretary fields phone calls from upset parents.
3. The school secretary has the ability to keep upset parents from visiting your classroom.
4. The school secretary knows how to find an accurate phone number for nearly every student.
5. The school secretary helps manage meeting and conference schedules, which can often be confusing.
6. The school secretary knows when a student is absent and if a student has been absent a lot of days.
7. The school secretary can make last-minute copies for you, even if you’ve exceeded your monthly quota.
8. The school secretary can get the custodian to your classroom in an instant, even though the custodian has been avoiding you for hours.
9. The school secretary knows all of the juicy gossip.
10. The school secretary knows and can easily access nearly any form you need to fill out.
11. The school secretary gives students a talking-to while they wait for the principal.
12. The school secretary often gets paid much less than the value she provides to the school.
13. The school secretary often has to work during the summer (and during some school breaks).
14. The school secretary helps make sure every student has a schedule at the beginning of the year.
15. The school secretary makes sure the crossing guard and flag raisers get their job done every day.
16. The school secretary makes sure buses arrive on time and finds out where buses are when they’re late.
17. The school secretary makes sure announcements are delivered at the proper time.
18. The school secretary helps control the fire alarms and announcements during safety drills.
19. The school secretary serves as the PR firm for the entire school.
20. The school secretary comforts kids who are sick, feeling sad, or just having a rough day.
21. The school secretary listens to teachers who just need to vent.
22. The school secretary often puts together and sends out the school newsletter.
23. The school secretary helps ensure a smooth transition for students transferring into the school.
24. The school secretary can answer nearly any question about the school that people call to ask.
25. The school secretary can tell you where your elusive principal is at nearly any given moment.
26. The school secretary knows who’s a walker, bus rider, or going to after-school care.
27. The school secretary takes important messages all day long and knows which ones to mark “urgent.”
28. The school secretary has to listen to the ringing of the phone all day long.
29. The school secretary often has to eat lunch while sitting at her command post.
30. The school secretary is a master multi-tasker.
31. The school secretary makes sure the copier is always working, whether she fixes it herself or calls the repairman.
32. The school secretary has the ability to magically find the supplies you forgot to bring for your classroom.
33. The school secretary keeps the school calendar updated and lets everyone know of any changes.
34. The school secretary schedules substitutes when teachers call in sick or need a day off (and can often get the sub you really want).
35. The school secretary makes sure the vending machines in the teachers’ lounge are working and well-stocked.
36. The school secretary signs for important packages, such as approved grant applications.
37. The school secretary fills teacher mailboxes with important mail and announcements.
38. The school secretary serves as an in-school communication system, passing messages between teachers.
39. The school secretary serves as an in-school postmaster, putting stamps on letters and making sure they get out in the mail.
40. The school secretary often sends around a card or organizes a group gift for birthdays, funerals, and other life events.
41. The school secretary often spends the entire day in the office, rarely getting to move around.
42. The school secretary has access to tons of data on students and teachers and manages to keep it all confidential.
43. The school secretary has the ability to ward off bill collectors and sales people when they call looking for teachers.
44. The school secretary often serves as a mediator in conflicts between staff members.
45. The school secretary is in charge of ordering key supplies for the school.
46. The school secretary often has a stressful, hectic day and still manages to keep a smile on her face.
47. The school secretary helps students get instruments, lunch boxes, and other items their parents drop off because they left them at home.
48. The school secretary knows where every student is supposed to be at a given moment.
49. The school secretary has the ability to determine whether a student really needs to call home or is just trying to get out of class.
50. The school secretary writes late passes for students.
51. The school secretary often serves as the first point of contact during an emergency.
52. The school secretary makes sure all visitors sign in and are issued visitor passes.
53. The school secretary knows when to call 9-1-1 during an emergency.
54. The school secretary is usually one of the first to arrive in the morning and one of the last to leave at night.
55. The school secretary is often responsible for making sure students get medication when the nurse is out.
56. The school secretary helps arrange field trips.
57. The school secretary can often find a lost pair of sneakers or discover which student stole something from a backpack.
58. The school secretary knows how to use Power School or whatever new system the district adopts.
59. The school secretary helps coordinate room assignments for teachers before the school year starts.
60. The school secretary keeps meticulous files of all important paperwork and other key information.
61. The school secretary often helps handle many of the school’s financial accounts.
62. The school secretary helps compile the endless reports and sets of data requested by the district office.
63. The school secretary helps get your money back from the vending machine when it malfunctions.
64. The school secretary helps organize and distribute items related to school fundraisers.
65. The school secretary makes sure everyone gets his/her picture taken on picture day and distributes the pictures when they come in.
66. The school secretary makes everything she does look like a piece of cake.
Do you have more reasons to add to the list? Share why you love your school secretary in the comments.
Every four years, athletes from around the world gather to compete in the Summer Olympic Games. While the athletes are competing to win gold, the games give kids a chance to learn more about the events the athletes are competing in, as well as the part of the world where the games are held. This year, the 2016 Summer Olympic Games are being held in Rio de Janeiro, the second most populous municipality in Brazil. Despite the controversy surrounding the games and their location, there are a lot of reasons to get excited. We’ve rounded up some fun facts about the 2016 Summer Olympic Games to help get kids excited too.
1. Rio de Janeiro is the first South American city to host the Olympic Games. For a fun geography activity, look up the locations of previous Olympic games and mark them on a world map.
2. Over 10,000 athletes will compete in the games. The U.S. will bring over 500 of those athletes, which you can learn about on Team USA’s website.
3. It will cost Rio de Janeiro over $9.5 billion to host the Summer Olympic games.
4. Golf will be played at the 2016 Olympics. The sport has not been part of the Summer Games for over 100 years.
5. In many countries, the competition just to make the Olympic team was tough. Queen Harrison, a hurdler, missed qualifying for the U.S. team by two one-hundredths of a second.
6. Over 45% of the athletes in Rio will be female. That’s a higher percentage of females than ever before.
7. Dipa Karmakar will compete as the first Indian female gymnast in 52 years to qualify for the Olympic games.
8. Yusra Mardini, an 18-year-old swimmer, will compete under the Olympic flag as part of the first team of refugee athletes.
9. Leila, Liina, and Lily Luik will be the first set of triplets to compete in the same Olympic sport. They are marathon runners from Estonia.
10. Simone Biles, the most decorated female gymnast in history, is the shortest member of Team USA at 4’8″ tall.
11. To prepare for the Olympics, workers in Rio de Janeiro built 43 miles of new roads and planted thousands of trees.
12. Canadian horse-jumper, Ian Miller, will compete in his 11th Olympic Games. He’s 69 years old.
13. Michael Phelps, the most-decorated Olympian of all time, will attempt to increase his medal count at the 2016 Games. He currently has 22 Olympic medals, 18 of them gold.
14. The country of Kosovo will compete in its first Olympics this year, sending eight athletes to the Games.
15. Nino Salukvadze and Tsotne Machavariani, shooters from the country of Georgia, are the first mother-son duo to compete at the Games.
16. Singer Katy Perry released her first single in two years, a song called “Rise,” which will be used as an anthem for the Olympic Games.
November 15-21 is Geography Awareness Week.
Geography is an integral part of any Social Studies class. Making connections between a region’s geographic features and their history and culture can broaden students’ understanding of history. Some facts about geography will not only add flavor to a social studies unit, but will also wow the students with unexpected answers and fun visuals.
Did you know…
#1. The smallest country in the world is Vatican City at only .2 square miles. The headquarters of the Catholic Church is located entirely in the city of Rome. Vatican City isn’t just the smallest country in land area, it is also the smallest country by population. Only about 600 people live there permanently, almost all of whom are clergy or members of the Swiss Guard, responsible for protecting the Pope.
#2. Unsurprisingly, the largest country in the world is Russia. What you may not know is Russia, with an area of 6,592,735 square miles, is almost twice the size of the second largest country in the world Canada, that comes in at 3,855,081 square miles. Over 60% of the land in Russia is forest, while over 4000 miles of the nation is tundra.
#3. Brazil is 11% larger than the contiguous 48 states of the United States of America. As a matter of fact, Brazil is the fifth largest country in the world. It is so big, that all of non-Russian Europe could fit inside of its borders!
#4. Asia is the largest continent in land area in the world. It is larger than North and South America combined! More people live in Asia (over 4 billion) than the rest of the world’s continents combined (almost 3 billion).
#5. The most common city name in the United States is Franklin, with 31. There are 26 cities in the world with a single letter as its name, two of which are located in America: B, Ohio and Y, Alaska. The original name of Los Angeles was El Pueblo de Nuestra Señora la Reina de los Ángeles del Río de Porciúncula. Transllated in English it means The Town of Our Lady the Queen of Angels of the Porciúncula River.
#6. Africa includes 54 countries and over 2000 languages spoken. There are over 500 languages in Nigeria alone! The most widely spoken language is Hausa, which is the first language to over 35 million Africans and another 15 million people in other parts of the world.
#7. Canada contains over 300,000 islands, some of which are available for purchase for less than $1 million. The largest of these islands include Vancouver Island and Newfoundland.
#8. About 90% of the world’s population lives in the Northern Hemisphere. The only Southern Hemisphere nations that contain more than 50 million people are Indonesia and Brazil, at 227 million and 192 million, respectively.
#9. The Amazon rainforest represents more than half of the world’s rainforests and produces more than 20% the world’s oxygen supply, contains 20% of all of the world’s plant and birds, and 10% of the world’s mammal species. 10% of the forest has been lost to agriculture in the last 50 years, with some forecasting the loss of the entire rain forest by 2030.
#10. The color red appears on the most national flags with 155. White is a close second with 144, and green is a distant third with 97. Purple appears in only six flags. Some national flags are almost identical due to a shared history. For example, blue, white, and red are common color combinations in Slavic nations, and many African nations use red, yellow, and green.
Use these facts as an introduction to a fun Geography Awareness Week lesson that can include a Fun Fact Scavenger Hunt. Ask your students to locate silly and surprising facts about each continent.
What other fun geography facts do you know? Leave them in the comments section! Be sure to visit HelpTeaching.com and try our free geography worksheets.