A History Of Mother’s Day

May 8, 2024

A History Of Mother’s Day

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Happy early Mother's Day!
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This Sunday is the day in which we all celebrate and honor our mothers as we celebrate the day adequately named Mother’s Day. This holiday actually has a longstanding history that many may not know. It is one of those unique holidays where the day is not celebrated on the same date every year, but instead follows a certain pattern. The day is always celebrated on the second Sunday in May, this year being May 12th. The American celebration of mothers goes back as far as 1908 in practice and 1914 in terms of when the day became an official, legal holiday.

The formation of our modern Mother’s Day is credited to Anna Jarvis.

Anna Jarvis is not the only name behind the holiday in the U.S. though. Her own mother, Ann Reeves Jarvis, was one of the founders of the “Mothers’ Day Work Clubs” in West Virginia, which is what inspired Anna to form what we now know as Mother’s Day. Also, a similar day came from an outspoken abolitionist and suffragette, Julia Ward Howe. Howe wrote a piece called the “Mother’s Day Proclamation” and pushed for the annual celebration of the day “Mother’s Peace Day.” Over the years, several others formed groups to celebrate mothers, but Anna Jarvis was the first to break the holiday through to a national scale.

The idea of Mother’s Day came after the death of Anna’s mother, Ann Reeves Jarvis. She passed in 1905 and Anna conceptualized the idea of Mother’s Day. She wanted a day that was meant to honor and celebrate mothers for the sacrifices they often make for their children. In 1908, Jarvis partnered with a department store owner in Philadelphia, and they threw the first Mother’s Day celebration at a Methodist church in West Virginia. There was also a celebration at the store in Philadelphia and between the two events, thousands showed up in attendance. From there, the day spread around with people in other states and cities organizing their own celebrations.

In 1914, President Woodrow Wilson officially signed Mother’s Day into being a national holiday.

Over time, the day became commercialized with various industries seeing their way into becoming a cornerstone for the day. The floral and card industries specifically took hold of the day in its early years, so much so that in 1920 Jarvis denounced what the day had become, urging people to stop buying gifts. Jarvis felt that the day had lost its true meaning, something that was deeply personal to her from the start.

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