The History of Mother’s Day

By Joy Williams

The modern Mother’s Day was created by Anna Jarvis in Grafton, West Virginia, as a day to honor mothers and motherhood; especially within the context of families, and family relationships.Celebrating motherhood is a historical tradition dating back almost as far as mothers themselves. A number of ancient cultures paid tribute to mothers including the ancient Greeks and the ancient Romans.

In the United States, Mother’s Day experienced a number of failures before eventually becoming the more mainstream holiday that we celebrate today. In 1858, Anna Reeves Jarvis was the first woman to hold an official celebration of mothers, when in her home state of West Virginia, she instituted Mothers’ Work Day to raise awareness about local sanitation issues. During the Civil War, she expanded the scope of Mothers’ Work Day to include sanitary conditions on both sides of the battlefield.

Meanwhile Julia Ward Howe attempted to institute a national celebration of mothers that honored women’s inclinations toward peace. In 1872, she initiated and promoted a Mother’s Day for Peace, to be held on June 2, which was celebrated the following year by women in 18 cities across America. The holiday continued to be celebrated by Bostonian women for another decade, but eventually lost its popularity after Howe stopped funding the celebrations herself.

In 1905, Anna Reeves Jarvis passed away, and her daughter Anna Marie Jarvis (both pictured on right), took up her mother’s cause. Anna vowed to realize her mother’s lifelong dream of creating a national day to honor mothers. In 1907, Anna launched her campaign by handing out white carnations to congregants at her mother’s church in Grafton, West Virginia. In 1908, her mother’s church gave in to Anna’s request to hold a special Sunday service in honor of mothers; a tradition that spread the very next year to churches in 46 states. In 1909, Anna left her job and dedicated herself to a full-time letter-writing campaign, imploring politicians, clergymen and civic leaders to institute a national day for mothers.

In 1912, Jarvis’ efforts saw tremendously successful results when her home state of West Virginia adopted an official Mother’s Day. Just two years later in 1914, the U.S. Congress passed a Joint Resolution, signed by President Wilson, establishing a national Mother’s Day emphasizing the role of women in their families. Since then, Mother’s Day has been celebrated by Americans on the second Sunday in May.

Perhaps the country’s greatest proponent of motherhood, Anna Marie Jarvis ironically never had children of her own. Yet that didn’t stop her from making the celebration of Mother’s Day her lifelong mission. In fact, as the holiday took on a life of its own, Jarvis expressed frequent dismay over its growing commercialization. I suppose she wasn’t a huge fan of the mothers rings that are so popular on Mother’s Day!

Article Source: Ezine Articles