Mother's Day Origin

Mother’s Day – How It Began in America

Mother’s Day is on the second Sunday in May, this day was signed into law in 1914 by President Woodrow Wilson, and it is now celebrated in more than 100 countries.

Mother and Daughter playing dress up

First “Mother’s Day” Of Sorts

Though the British had long honored mothers during Lent on what they called Mothering Sunday, the idea of setting aside a day in recognition of motherhood did not catch on anywhere else until the 20th century.

Who Spurred Mother’s Day To Be Named A National Holiday?

Reformer Julia Ward Howe first broached the idea in 1870. For the next few decades others tried to stir up interest in regular Mother’s Day observances. But credit for making the day stick as a national celebration belongs to a West Virginia schoolteacher named Anna Jarvis.

Mother and daughter celebrate

Born in Grafton, West Virginia, in 1864, Jarvis had a close, loving relationship with her mother. Despite her filial affections and attentions, Jarvis felt guilty she had not done more for her. She set to work campaigning for a national Mother’s Day. to push for legislation she sent out letters to congressmen, governors, mayors, newspaper editors, and business leaders across the land. Her hometown church in Grafton celebrated Mother’s Day on May 10, 1908, the anniversary of Jarvis’s mother’s death. Jarvis handed out carnations– her mother’s favorite. Finally, Congress approved the proposed bill, and in 1914 President Wilson proclaimed the second Sunday in May to be Mother’s Day.

In a sad footnote, Jarvis died childless and impoverished in 1948 in a sanatorium. But the tradition started by a woman who devoted her to her mother and her mother’s memory has spread to many countries. the U.S. leads the way in Mother’s Day spending– on cards, flowers, and dinners out.

Today more than 100 countries celebrate versions of Mother’s Day. In India, Japan, Finland, Pakistan, and many more, mothers are honored, usually with a special cake, a big mean, and flowers.

From: An Uncommon History Of Common Things by Bethanne Patrick and John Thompson