When we talk about apostrophes on Sentence Works courses, this is one that’s hotly debated.
I’ve noticed that most cards say “Happy Mother’s Day”. I’ve never been convinced this is right because the apostrophe suggests that the card is referring to one mother.
I believe that it’s a day for ALL mothers, as witnessed by the fact you can’t get a restaurant booking for love nor money on M-Day. If it was only for ONE mum, you wouldn’t have a problem, surely?
But hardly any cards say “Happy Mothers’ Day”, which intrigues me. So I did a bit of research and found the reason. Apparently, Anna Jarvis, an American lady who invented the day, was adamant it was a time to celebrate each mother individually, rather than all mothers everywhere. So she insisted the apostrophe went before the “s” to indicate each special mother.
Ms Jarvis, who died in 1948, later regretted starting the whole shebang, as it became increasingly commercial. There are no records on whether she changed her mind about the apostrophe.
I’m glad there’s a good reason for the apostrophe being in what seems to me to be the wrong place, but it still doesn’t feel right somehow.
Luckily, I’ve found a solution – I just make sure my own mum receives a card that says “Happy Mothering Sunday” instead.