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As children we always wondered, where it came from, later we found out and thought we'd share this little bit of knowledge with you. This is a picture of the famous Anne Jarvis, founder of Mother's Day.
A Touch of History on the Birth of Mother’s Day
Ever since we were little boys and girls we celebrate Mother’s Day, once a year in May.
We have been told that it is the day to honor our mothers for all the wonderful things they are doing for us and have done.
Mother’s Day is a fact in our lives, but, where did it come from? Who has put it there, into the middle of May?
Surprisingly there is more than one answer to this question.
For one we have Mother’s Day in the United States, invented and fought for by Anne Marie Reeves-Jarvis and her daughter Anne Jarvis. Like so many traditions, it spread worldwide.
Both ladies lived during the early years of the 19th century. Mother Jarvis was a women’s rights activist and a school teacher. She had the longing to gain more respect for mothers in our world.
It started with "Mother’s Friendship Day", developed by Marie Reeves Jarvis, to assist in the healing of the nation right after the Civil War. To her it always seemed important that the services mothers render to humanity should one day be recognized and honored.
The Jarvis Family had moved to Grafton, Virginia, when the daughter Marie Jarvis, nine of eleven children, was just a baby.
Even though Mother Jarvis was a working mother and an activist, she had utmost respect for traditional homemakers and dedicated their lives to their recognition and publicity.
After the death of the Mother, in 1905, her daughter spent years and a fortune to fulfill her mother’s dream and work. On 10 May in 1907 or 1908 (history is not very clear here) she finally had the first Mother’s Day Service held at her mother’s church. Since her mom’s favorite flowers were carnations, she passed out hundreds of white carnations at church to the mothers who attended service on that day.
After spending more time and money in countless attempts to draw attention to her cause, John Wanamaker, a merchant and philanthropist joined the campaign.
In 1908 the first bill was presented to the4 U.S. Senate, proposing the establishment of Mother’s Day, but, sadly, was denied.
The World Sunday School Association joined her now famous movement and in 1912 West Virginia became the first state to adopt the official Mother's Day.
Only two years later, 1914, President Woodrow Wilson signed the congress joint resolution to establish Mother’s Day.
Anne Jarvis had fulfilled her mother’s dream. On 24 November 1948 she died at the age of 84, after taking care of several of her sisters. Anne herself never had any children.
In the 18th century attempts were made to make Mother’s Day a more public day by Mrs. Blakely and by Julia Ward Howe, but failed.
But still, there is another side to Mother’s Day, the religious side. It goes way back into the 16th century.
The Greece celebrated their Goddess Rhea, the mother of all Gods, England celebrated Mothering day to honor the mothers of England. Often this day was used to travel home from the place of work to visit the parents.
Spain and Portugal celebrate the day in honor of the Virgin Mary, in December. The Romans honored the mother of gods, Cybele, in March.
Our personal favorite, the British Isles and Celtic Europe celebrated the Goddess Brigid, later Saint Brigid.
About 50 countries around the globe are celebrating Mother’s day and many of them on the 2nd Sunday in May (Germany, Austria, Australia, Belgium, Turkey, Italy). Some countries celebrate this day on the first Sunday in May (South Africa), in October (Argentina and India), the last Sunday in May (Sweden and France) and on the 1st day of spring (Lebanon).
Whichever day you prefer to celebrate your mothers, grandmothers, aunts or other beloved and respected people that guided your life, we do hope that it will be filled with joy and love!
By Birgit and Roger Pratcher
Authors on Authors Den
© May 2006