Mother’s Day is a holiday honoring motherhood that is observed in different forms throughout the world. The American incarnation of Mother’s Day was created by Anna Jarvis in 1908 and became an official U.S. holiday in 1914.
Celebrations of mother’s and motherhood can be traced back to the ancient Greeks and Romans, who held festivals in honor of the mother goddesses Rhea and Cybele, but the clearest modern precedent for Mother’s Day is the early Christian festival known as “Mothering Sunday.” Once a major tradition in the United Kingdom and parts of Europe, this celebration fell on the fourth Sunday in Lent and was originally seen as a time when the faithful would return to their “mother church”—the main church in the vicinity of their home—for a special service. Over time the Mothering Sunday tradition shifted into a more secular holiday, and children would present their Mother’s with flowers and other tokens of appreciation. This custom eventually faded in popularity before merging with the American Mother’s Day in the 1930s and 1940s.
Another precursor to Mother’s Day came from the abolitionist and suffragette Julia Ward Howe. In 1870 Howe wrote the “Mother’s Day Proclamation,” a call to action that asked Mother’s to unite in promoting world peace. In 1873 Howe campaigned for a “Mother’s Peace Day” to be celebrated every June 2. Other early Mother’s
Following the success of her first Mother’s Day, Jarvis—who remained unmarried and childless her whole life—resolved to see her holiday added to the national calendar. Arguing that American holidays were biased toward male achievements, she started a massive letter writing campaign to newspapers and prominent politicians urging the adoption of a special day honoring motherhood. By 1912 many states, towns and churches had adopted Mother’s Day as an annual holiday, and Jarvis had established the Mother’s Day International Association to help promote her cause. Her persistence paid off in 1914 when President Woodrow Wilson signed a measure officially establishing the second Sunday in May as Mother’s Day.
The official Mother’s Day holiday arose in the 1900s as a result of the efforts of Anna Jarvis, daughter of Ann Reeves Jarvis. Following her mother’s 1905 death, Anna Jarvis conceived of Mother’s Day as a way of honoring the sacrifices Mother’s made for their children. After gaining financial backing from a Philadelphia department store owner named John Wanamaker, in May 1908 she organized the first official Mother’s Day celebration at a Methodist church in Grafton, West Virginia. That same day also saw thousands of people attend a Mother’s Day event at one of Wanamaker’s retail stores in Philadelphia.
History of Mother’s Day: Julia Ward Howe
The idea of the official celebration of Mother’s Day in the US was first suggested by Julia Ward Howe in 1872. An activist, writer, and poet Julia shot to fame with her famous Civil War song, “Battle Hymn of the Republic”. Julia Ward Howe suggested that June 2 be annually celebrated as Mother’s Day and should be dedicated to peace. She wrote a passionate appeal to women and urged them to rise against war in her famous Mother’s Day Proclamation, written in Boston in 1870. She also initiated a Mother’s’ Peace Day observance on the second Sunday in June in Boston and held the meeting for a number of years. Julia tirelessly championed the cause of official celebration of Mother’s Day and declaration of official holiday on the day. Her idea spread but was later replaced by the Mother’s Day holiday now celebrated in May.
Anna Jarvis is recognized as the Founder of Mother’s Day in the US. Though Anna Jarvis never married and never had kids, she is also known as the Mother of Mother’s Day, an apt title for the lady who worked hard to bestow honor on all Mother’s.
Anna Jarvis got the inspiration of celebrating Mother’s Day from her own mother Mrs. Anna Marie Reeves Jarvis in her childhood. An activist and social worker, Mrs. Jarvis used to express her desire that someday someone must honor all Mother’s, living and dead, and pay tribute to the contributions made by them.
A loving daughter, Anna never forgot her Mother’s word and when her mother died in 1905, she resolved to fulfill her Mother’s desire of having a Mother’s Day. The growing negligent attitude of adult Americans towards their Mother’s and a desire to honor her Mother’s soared her ambitions.