The History of Mother's Day
All across the world, over 46 countries honor mothers with a
special day, but not all nations celebrate on the same day. We honor
mothers with cards, candy, flowers and dinner out. But have you ever
considered how this became a legal holiday in the United States?
Mother's day was first suggested in the United States by Julia Ward
Howe, writer of the Battle Hymn of the Republic. She suggested that
this day be dedicated to peace. Miss Howe organized Mother's Day
meetings in Boston, Mass. yearly.
In 1877, Mrs. Juliet Calhoun Blakely inadvertently set Mother's Day
in motion. On Sunday, May 11, 1877, which was Mrs. Blakely's birthday,
the pastor of her Methodist Episcopal Church left the pulpit abruptly,
being distraught over the behavior of his son. Mrs. Blakely stepped to
the pulpit to take over the remainder of the service and called for
other mothers to join her. Mrs. Blakely's two sons were so touched by
her gesture that they vowed to return to their hometown of Albion,
Michigan every year to mark their mother's birthday and to pay tribute
to her. In addition, the two brothers also urged business associates
and those they met while traveling as salesman to honor their mothers
on the second Sunday of May. They also urged the Methodist Episcopal
Church in Albion to set aside the second Sunday of each May to honor
all mothers, and especially their own.
While there were local celebrations honoring mothers in the late
1800's, it was largely due to the efforts of Anna Jarvis that Mothers
Day became a national holiday in the United States. Anna's mother,
Mrs. Anna M. Jarvis, had been instrumental in developing "Mothers
Friendship Day" which was part of the healing process of the Civil
War. In honor of her mother, Miss Jarvis wanted to set aside a day to
honor all mothers, living and dead.
In 1907, Miss Anna began a campaign to establish a national
Mother's Day. She persuaded her mother's church in Grafton, West
Virginia to celebrate Mother's day on the second anniversary of her
mother's death, the 2nd Sunday of May. By the next year Mother's Day
was also celebrated in her own city of Philadelphia.
Miss Jarvis and her supporters began to write to godly ministers,
evangelists, businessmen, and politicians in their crusade to
establish a national Mother's Day. This campaign was a success. By
1911, Mother's Day was celebrated in almost every state in the Union.
In 1914, President Woodrow Wilson made the official announcement
proclaiming Mother's Day as a national holiday that was to be held
each year on the second Sunday of May.
The one-woman crusade of Anna Jarvis is often overlooked in History
books. Women during the early 1900s were engaged in many other reform
efforts that the history behind Mother's Day is often neglected. But
it is likely that it was these other reforms and the avenues they
opened for women that paved the way for Anna Jarvis to succeed in her
campaign for Mother's Day.
Patricia Chadwick is a freelance writer and creator of History's
Women Website at
http://www.HistorysWomen.com. Visit her site and sign up for her
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