As Mother’s Day turns 100 this year, it’s known mostly as a time for brunches, gifts, cards, and general outpourings of love and appreciation for Mothers.
But the holiday began as a somber occasion as it was founded for mourning women to remember fallen soldiers during the Civil war and work for peace. It all started in the 1850s, when West Virginia women’s organizer Ann Reeves Jarvis held Mother’s Day work clubs to improve sanitary conditions and try to lower infant mortality by fighting disease and curbing milk contamination. They also attended to wounded soldiers fighting in the war.
After the Civil War Jarvis and other women organized Mother’s Friendship Day picnics and other events as pacifist strategies to unite former foes. Julia Ward Howe, for one—best known as the composer of “The Battle Hymn of the Republic”—issued a widely read “Mother’s Day Proclamation” in 1870, calling for women to take an active political role in promoting peace.
Around the same time, Jarvis had initiated a Mother’s Friendship Day for Union and Confederate loyalists across her state. But it was her daughter Anna who was most responsible for what we call Mother’s Day—and who would spend most of her later life fighting what it had become.
Anna Jarvis never had children of her own, but the 1905 death of her own mother inspired her to organize the first Mother’s Day observances in 1908.
Largely through Jarvis’s efforts, Mother’s Day came to be observed in a growing number of cities and states until U.S. President Woodrow Wilson officially set aside the second Sunday in May in 1914 for the holiday.
Anna Jarvis and the Defense of Her Mother’s Day” as her Ph.D. dissertation, said in a previous interview. “It wasn’t to celebrate all mothers. It was to celebrate the best mother you’ve ever known—your mother—as a son or a daughter.” It was her idea that everyone returns home on Mothers Day to tell your Mother what she meant to him or her.
Anna Jarvis’s idea of an intimate Mother’s Day quickly became a commercial gold mine centering on the buying and giving of flowers, candies, and greeting cards—a development that deeply disturbed Jarvis. She set about dedicating herself and her sizable inheritance to returning Mother’s Day to its reverent roots.
Jarvis incorporated herself as the Mother’s Day International Association and tried to retain some control of the holiday. She organized boycotts, threatened lawsuits, and even attacked First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt for using Mother’s Day to raise funds for charities.
“In 1923 she crashed a convention of confectioners in Philadelphia. “Jarvis began to speak out and rally against candy makers
A similar protest followed two years later. “The American War Mothers, which still exists, used Mother’s Day for fund-raising and sold carnations every year. Anna resented that, so she crashed their 1925 convention in Philadelphia and was actually arrested for disturbing the peace.
Jarvis’s fervent attempts to reform Mother’s Day continued until at least the early 1940s. In 1948 she died at 84 in Philadelphia’s Marshall Square Sanitarium.
This woman, who died penniless in a sanitarium in a state of dementia, was a woman who could have profited from Mother’s Day if she wanted to, “But she railed against those who did, and it cost her everything, financially and physically.
Mothers Day has been one of appreciation for me. My Mother and Grandmother have past but we had a beautiful addition to our family one Mothers Day when my niece Stephanie was born. I flew to be with my brother’s family and help take care of the babies. She has always been special to me. The ladies in our family have always had my heart. Stephanie’s Mother & Father are in Denver with Stephanie and her family to celebrate her birthday and Mother’s Day. See picture.
Last night I was honored by my son at a dinner and received a lovely gift. My husband gave me a huge vase of Yellow roses before we left for the restaurant. Transformation Enzyme Corp. honored me as their founder. Women have always given birth whether it is a life, an idea or giving love whenever we have the opportunity.
I am sorry Anna Jarvis suffered for and because of Mother’s Day but I am happy we take that time out to honor the women we love.