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8 of History’s Greatest Tributes to Mothers

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A card and a bouquet of flowers simply weren’t enough for some of history’s biggest names. To show their love for mom, they dedicated songs, memorials, and even entire cities to the ones who brought them into the world. Here are a few notable examples.

1. MONUMENT TO PESESHET

When archaeologists uncovered the tomb of Akhet-Hetep, a high priest who lived in Giza during Egypt’s fifth dynasty (around 2500 BCE), they discovered, along with the usual funerary arrangements, a memorial to his mother, Peseshet, who was probably one of the world’s first known female physicians. Ancient Egyptians were notable for their gender egalitarianism, meaning Peseshet would have been far from the only female doctor during the time period. But her title as “Overseer of Women Physicians” indicates she was highly skilled and respected by many, including her son.

2. BRAHMS'S “GERMAN REQUIEM”

Following the death of a friend in 1856, the renowned composer began to conceptualize a large, sweeping requiem in German. But it wasn’t until the death of his mother, Johanna, in 1865 that he began working on the piece in earnest. Composed of seven movements and incorporating chorus, orchestra, and baritone and soprano soloists, “Requiem” has been called a consolation piece about death and grieving that also manages to be light, and even joyous. It’s one of Brahms’s defining works, and a fine tribute to his mother.

3. HELENOPOLIS

She started out as a stabularia (which probably means barmaid, since inns and taverns were often found next to stables), and ended up First Lady of the Roman Empire. Helena and her son Constantine had a close relationship, and after he became emperor he showered her with land, title, and wealth. He also named a couple cities after her, including her birthplace, Drepanum, a town in Asia Minor which he renamed Helenopolis. A devout follower of Christianity, Helena would make a pilgrimage to the holy land, where she claimed to find pieces of the true cross. After her death, the Catholic Church made her a saint.

4. WHISTLER’S MOTHER

Born in America, James Abbott McNeill Whistler spent much of his career in Europe, where he enjoyed the fast life of an artist bon vivant. But when his stern, very pious mother Anna came to live with him in London, he reverted to the role of dutiful son (he kicked his girlfriend out of his flat, for starters). His controlled, respectful portrait of Anna, officially titled Arrangement in Gray and Black, No. 1, was a formal exercise that became a symbol of maternal devotion and steadfastness known the world over. Debuting to mixed reviews, it would be bought for the Musée de Luxembourg before transferring to the Louvre; 30 years ago, it moved to the Musée d’Orsay, where it appears today.

5. MOTHER’S DAY

In 1908, West Virginian Anna Jarvis organized a celebration at her local church in memory of her mother, Ann Jarvis, who had served as a nurse during the Civil War. Jarvis lobbied for Mother’s Day to be recognized as a national holiday, and maintained that it should be “a day of sentiment, not profit” where children would spend time with their mothers. The holiday became official, but Jarvis became so disgusted by the commercial nature of Mother’s Day that she tried to abolish it.

6. “LET IT BE”

During a particularly stressful period in 1968 when The Beatles were on the verge of dissolving, Paul McCartney had a dream. In it, his mother, Mary, who died when he was just 14, came to him and told him that everything would be alright. “Let it be,” she said. The next day, McCartney sat down at the piano, and ended up with one of the band’s biggest (and last) hits. Many see religious meaning in the song, and believe “Mother Mary” refers to the Virgin Mary. McCartney, for his part, welcomes all interpretations, but has maintained his story and his devotion to his mother. When a fan on his website asked what he’d do if he had a time machine, McCartney wrote: “Go back and spend time with my mum.”

7. HALL OF JOYFUL LONGEVITY

The Emperor Qianlong of China considered his mother, the Empress Dowager Chongqing, to be a trusted friend and advisor. So on her 60th birthday in 1753, he commissioned several additions to the Summer Palace outside Beijing, including the building of a new lake and the construction of the Hall of Joyful Longevity, which would serve for years as the residence for any royalty visiting the picturesque collection of temples, gardens, and lakes. The emperor also threw a blowout birthday party for the empress, complete with poetry readings, animal sacrifices, and banners decorating the road from Beijing to the Summer Palace.

8. BIAMBA MARIE MUTOMBO HOSPITAL

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Former NBA big man Dikembe Mutombo was stingy around the basket as one of the league’s most formidable shot blockers. But off the court, he generously gave to his home country, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, formerly Zaire. In 2007, he opened a $29 million state-of-the art hospital named for his mother, Biamba Marie Mutombo, just outside the capital Kinshasa, in an area riddled with poverty. A local physician called it a “jewel” for residents, including the nearly half a million children under 5 who died each year of preventable causes. Honoring his mother at the hospital’s opening, Mutombo said, “She always wanted us to do the best we could to serve others.”

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10 Things You Might Not Know About Mother's Day
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Everyone knows Mother's Day is the day to shower your mom with affection (and maybe take her out for a nice meal). But just how many people plan to do that each year? Here are a few facts and stats about Mother's Day that might surprise you.

1. THE DAY WAS FIRST SUGGESTED BY A FAMOUS POET.

The woman who first proposed Mother's Day in 1870 was the same woman who wrote the lyrics to "The Battle Hymn of the Republic." After the Civil War, writer Julia Ward Howe suggested a Mother's Day to recognize peace and protest war. She organized annual events in Boston to honor mothers, but despite her work (and her moving "Mother's Day Proclamation"), nothing official came of her efforts.

2. THE FOUNDER FOUGHT BACK.

Although Julia Ward Howe first suggested a day for mothers, Anna Jarvis (who had no children of her own) campaigned for a national day of observance for moms, in remembrance of her own mother, Ann Jarvis, who had spent years working to provide resources for poor mothers in West Virginia. Mother's Day became a designated holiday in 1914, but within a few years, Jarvis became disgusted with how commercial the day had become and started a petition to rescind the holiday. (That clearly didn't come to pass.)

3. PICK UP THE PHONE.

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Call volume in the U.S. goes up 11 percent on Mother’s Day, and a recent study suggests that the more widespread use of cell phones has greatly increased the amount of contact adult children have with their mothers. So don't look like a slacker: Your mom definitely expects to hear from you, and not just with a text.

4. EXPECT OVERCROWDED RESTAURANTS.

If you're thinking about taking your mom out to eat, you might want to consider which time of the day will have enough open tables. Mother's Day is the busiest day of the year for restaurants, with some 80 million adults dining out (which tops even Valentine's Day). Nearly half of those people will be out for dinner, as opposed to lunch or brunch, so if you'd like to treat your mom to her favorite cuisine, perhaps go earlier in the day.

5. THE JEWELRY AND SPA SERVICES INDUSTRIES GET BOOSTS TOO.

You know you need to get your mom a gift, but what to buy? According to the National Retail Federation, $5 billion will be spent on jewelry this year (accounting for 36 percent of shoppers). Another 37 percent of consumers will purchase clothing, 15 percent get electronics, and 24 percent will spend nearly $2 billion on spa services for their mothers. But if you want to let mom pick out her own gift, you aren't alone—45 percent of surveyed consumers said they planned to go the gift card route.

6. THE FLOWER INDUSTRY IS THE BIG WINNER.

Mother's Day carnations in planters
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Carnations quickly became the symbol of Mother’s Day (supposedly representing the tears of Mary when Jesus was crucified) when it began in 1914, and soon the floral industry promoted the idea of wearing a red carnation to honor a person's living mom or a white carnation to honor a mother who had passed. Although this tradition has faded, 76 percent of moms are currently hoping to get flowers from their kids or loved ones on this special day. Their odds are good—Mother's Day is the number one day for floral sales, and the NRF's survey revealed that a whopping 69 percent of people were planning to buy flowers this year.

7. MOMS AROUND THE WORLD ARE RECOGNIZED WITH DAYS THROUGHOUT THE YEAR.

Many countries have a Mother’s Day, though they don't always fall on the second Sunday in May like it does in the U.S., Australia, China, Japan, and India. Flowers and gifts are a worldwide tradition for the day, but in Thailand parades are held and jasmine is commonly given as a gift. In Serbia, moms are tied up with rope or ribbon until they give sweets and gifts to their children (which seems to contradict the entire concept of the holiday).

8. MANY PEOPLE HONOR MULTIPLE MOTHERS IN THEIR LIFE.

breakfast foods with "I love you Mom" card
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You’re probably planning on sending your own mom a card, but are you going to send cards to other mothers as well? The average consumer buys 2.8 Mother’s Day cards, so most people are buying for more than just their own mom (like, say, for their grandmothers, wives, mothers-in-law, sisters, or friends). In fact, 57 percent of mothers says they’ve received Mother’s Day gifts from non-family members.

9. STATISTICS SHOW DADS NEED TO STEP IT UP.

While everyone knows you need to get something for your mother, 47 percent of moms think that dads should buy the mother of their kids a gift. Don’t hold your breath though moms: Only 6 percent of dads agree!

10. MOMS STILL COME OUT AHEAD FOR MOTHER'S DAY.

Even if fathers might not be the ones driving floral sales on Mother's Day, if there were a monetary competition between the parental appreciation days, mothers would win outright. On average, people spend $126 on Father’s Day compared to $172 on Mother’s Day. Sorry, Dad.

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That $75 Mother's Day Coupon for Bed, Bath & Beyond You Saw on Facebook Is a Scam
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Mother’s Day is swiftly approaching, meaning you should probably order flowers or buy her that purse she’s been eyeing sooner rather than later. But as retailers roll out the pre-holiday sales, be on guard for a fake coupon from Bed, Bath & Beyond that’s been making the rounds on Facebook. As TODAY reports, the voucher is a scam designed to trick consumers into parting with their personal information.

The Mother’s Day offer guarantees shoppers $75 off an in-store purchase, but what it really does is lead them to a domain name that closely resembles—but doesn’t really belong to—Bed, Bath & Beyond's website. Discount hunters are required to fill out a phony survey to complete the deal, and to share the coupon with Facebook friends. (Needless to say, they don’t end up scoring the coupon.)

Bed, Bath & Beyond caught wind of the scheme, and is now warning customers about the fraudulent promotion. The company says it’s partnered with Facebook to have the coupons removed—but in the future, they advise patrons to contact their local Bed, Bath & Beyond store (or call their customer service phone number) if they spot a too-good-to-be-true deal.

This isn’t the first time a Facebook scam has tried to exploit bargain hunters: Just last month, a similar Facebook scam promised Lowes customers $50 off Mother’s Day coupons in exchange for filing out a short survey. However, you can avoid falling victim to these kinds of tricks by following the Better Business Bureau’s advice for spotting bogus coupons, as shared by Snopes:

Don’t believe what you see. It’s easy to steal the colors, logos and header of an established organization. Scammers can also make links look like they lead to legitimate websites and emails appear to come from a different sender. Legitimate businesses do not ask for credit card numbers or banking information on customer surveys. If they do ask for personal information, like an address or email, be sure there’s a link to their privacy policy.

Watch out for a reward that’s too good to be true. If the survey is real, you may be entered in a drawing to win a gift card or receive a small discount off your next purchase. Few businesses can afford to give away $50 gift cards for completing a few questions.

[h/t TODAY]

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