Even though mothers have existed since the beginning of humanity, celebrating Mother’s Day as a formal holiday is a fairly recent invention. It begins, like so many Mom stories, with a powerful bond between a mother and daughter.
Ann Reeves Jarvis, known as Mother Jarvis, was a mother and Sunday school teacher in rural West Virginia—until the Civil War broke out in 1861. She became an activist for human rights and mothers, no matter which side of the blue-gray divide they were on. To begin, she organized “mothers’ day work clubs.” These clubs taught mothers basic health, hygiene, and child-rearing skills to fight the unsanitary living conditions that caused so much death and disease in young children.
She went on to organize “women’s brigades” to help wounded soldiers and a Mothers’ Friendship Day to improve relations between former Union and Confederate families. After all, if anyone can calm down a heated argument, it’s a mother.
Mother Jarvis’s daughter, Anna M. Jarvis, was her devoted disciple and served beside her mother. As Mother Jarvis’s health declined, Anna became her caretaker, devoting years to her beloved mom. On May 8, 1905, Mother Jarvis died of heart complications.
Anna, by then a young mother herself, was devastated by the loss. In 1906, she invited friends and family to a special church service to honor her mother on the one-year anniversary of her death. She handed out carnations, Mother Jarvis’s favorite flower, to all the mothers in attendance.
It was such a moving tribute, she and her loved ones decided to keep the tradition going each May. They broadened the celebration to include mothers in general.
Jarvis went on a campaign to spread her favorite holiday, writing letters, petitioning politicians, and talking about her mother to anyone who would listen. In 1915, her efforts paid off. President Woodrow Wilson declared Mother’s Day an annual national observance in the United States, to be held on the second Sunday of May.
Why is it called Mother’s Day?
More perplexing than the question “When is Mother’s Day?” is the question of why the holiday’s name is singular, not plural—Mother’s Day, not Mothers’ Day. Anna Jarvis was adamant that it be dedicated to just one mother. Its purpose, she said, is “to honor the best mother who ever lived: yours.”
Another way to honor your mom: Create a photo album of mother-child moments and decorate it with mother-daughter quotes, mother-son quotes, tender words, and inside jokes.
Article by Charlotte Hilton Andersen for Reader’s Digest©
Source: When Is Mother’s Day 2022? Plus, Why Do We Celebrate Mother’s Day? (rd.com)