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From Politics to Consumerism, The Business of Mother's Day

Celebrations of mothers and motherhood can be traced back to the ancient Greeks and Romans, who held festivals in honor of the mother goddesses Rhea and Cybele.

This year marks the 100th anniversary of Woodrow Wilson’s presidential decree that made Mother’s Day a national holiday, and in that time it has become one of the biggest holidays for consumer spending in the United States and around the globe.

Business contributor Rebecca Harris points out that Mother’s Day was not always about gift-giving. 

“There were times when Mother’s Day was used as a platform for launching political or feminist causes. So in 1968, Coretta Scott King, wife of Martin Luther King, Jr., used Mother’s Day to host a march in support of underprivileged women and children. And in the 1970s, women’s groups also used the holiday as a time to highlight the need for equal access and equal rights.”

Over the years, the focus of the holiday has become less political and more commercial.

Four million women between the ages of 15 and 50 gave birth in the United States, and with all those mothers, Harris said the Hallmark cards add up to a pretty hefty profit. The holiday is a big day for the floral, jewelry, and restaurant industries, which Harris refers to as “brunch, bouquets, and bling”. 

For some uniquely Pittsburgh ideas for Mother’s Day, Harris offered a few ideas.

“The zoo is hosting a great brunch on Sunday, May 10th, and you can also do Paint with Your Mother with Assemble Pittsburgh, and finally you can visit the Frick Art and Historical Center and you can take a tour with your mom, so there are those and lots and lots of other things.” 

Here are some more philanthropic ideas for Mother’s Day:

Pittsburgh Food Bank

As Our Own Charity

MercyCorps Gifts

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