Mother's Day was created as an official holiday in 1914 as a result of the efforts of a woman named Anna Jarvis. After her mother passed, Jarvis' wanted a way to honour her and the love and sacrifices made by many mothers on behalf of their children. Jarvis' secured some financial support from a Philadelphia department store and organized the first official celebration on a Sunday in May 1908. She hosted it at a Methodist church in her home community of Grafton, West Virginia while the department stores helped promote it and also host events across their retail stores in Philadelphia.
It must've been a successful event with retail outlets, and has turned into a bit of a joke that Mother's Day was only created to sell more flowers, gifts, and of course - greeting cards. Indeed, the holiday's commercialization has become significant.
However, the event's immense support of motherhood should not be downplayed for the sake of a joke that this is merely a "Hallmark holiday". The event warms the hearts of many and Jarvis - who was unmarried and childless - was extremely passionate about honouring the achievements of mothers. She worked hard, arguing that national holidays (in the United States) were typically biased toward male achievements. She conducted a massive letter-writing campaign to newspapers and politicians championing the role of mothers to be honoured in society and advocating a national holiday honouring motherhood. She even started up "Mother's Day Work Clubs" to help support women in caring for their children and to learn mothering techniques. These clubs later became a unifying force in a region of the country still divided over the Civil War. In 1868 Jarvis organized "Mothers' Friendship Day," at which mothers gathered with former Union and Confederate soldiers to promote reconciliation.
"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," says History.com. "Her persistence paid off in 1914 when President Woodrow Wilson signed a measure officially establishing the second Sunday in May as Mother's Day."
Prior to Jarvis' coordinated efforts, other champions of motherhood include Julia Ward Howe, an American abolitionist and suffragette who, in 1870, campaigned for women and mothers to unite in promoting world peace. She worked to establish a "Mother's Peace Day" to be celebrated every June 2, though it was not nationally recognized.
Juliet Calhoun Blakely, a temperance activist, was also actively working to organize a Mother's Day in the 1870s with moderate success in her state of Michigan.
Motherhood in general has been honoured throughout the world in many ways. Ancient Greeks and Romains held festivals in honour of motherhood. "Mothering Sunday" was once a major Christian tradition in the early churches throughout parts of Europe.
Today, Mother's Day is celebrated on the second Sunday in May by many, if not most, countries in the world. Interestingly, the UK, Ireland, as well as most Arab countries, celebrate Mother's Day, but on a different day of the year.
We hope you are inspired by this story of the history of Mother's Day. How encouraging to see the support of strong women helping women - something we can certainly get behind.
If we can help you celebrate the women in your life in any way, please let us know! Our gift baskets are gorgeous, we value locally-made products, and in many cases we gift wrap for free. :) We can even ship to someone special if you need us to! Click here to see our gift collection.
So Happy Mother's Day! Hmm, doesn't quite seem to capture such a powerful holiday. Here are some words of encouragement we came across lately that come a little closer:
"Whether you grew a baby inside of your body or inside of your heart. Whether someone calls you 'mom' or you play that role in their lives less officially. If you're still deciding. If you're still waiting. If you've chosen not to, but you are a cheerleader to your friends who did. Maybe you're celebrating your mom. Maybe you're missing your mom. Whether you're laughing or crying or celebrating or remembering... Happy Mother's Day to YOU! I hope there's lots of love around you this weekend." - Lindsay Wright