Mother’s Day is celebrated the second Sunday in May.
In 1907, Anna Reeves Jarvis launched Mother’s Day in memory of her mother as a tribute to all mothers, living and deceased. Several others before Anna Reeves Jarvis suggested an observance of Mother’s Day. But it was not until Jarvis enlisted the help of John Wanamaker, the Philadelphia merchant and philanthropist, that the idea gained national appeal. Born in West Virginia, Jarvis grew up in the shadow of the Civil War among a family dedicated to service in the cause of Civil War veterans. In the early 1900’s, the Jarvis family moved north to Philadelphia, where her mother died in 1905. It was a loss from which she never recovered. Two years later, the still-mourning daughter announced to some friends her determination to campaign for a nation-wide observance of Mother’s Day. She chose the second Sunday in May and began wearing a carnation.
With the help of Wanamaker, churches in Grafton, West Virginia and Philadelphia held Mother’s Day celebrations in 1908. The service at Andrews Methodist Episcopal Church in Grafton honored the memory Jarvis’s mother, and the country church still stands as a public shrine.
Jarvis hoped that sons and daughters would take time to write their mother a special note, pay an extra visit on Mother’s Day, and give her a wildflower to commemorate the event. The idea took hold. Mother’s Day received national recognition in 1914 when President Woodrow Wilson signed a joint resolution of Congress to recognize Mother’s Day. The following year, he was authorized to proclaim Mother’s Day as an annual national observance. Mother’s Day is now recognized by nations on every continent. And its founder? Jarvis never married and thus never experienced the joy of motherhood, the institution in which she devoted a lifetime to see so honored.
But her concept of a special note to mothers has become an avalanche of more than 145 million greeting cards each year. From the remembrance of a wildflower has come the tradition of giving mothers a floral tribute on Mother’s Day. In fact, spending nearly eight billion dollars each year giving mother’s jewelry, fragrances, apparel and labor-saving appliances is now part of our culture.
Almost anyone can have a child, but it takes someone special to be a mother. What better tribute than that, for this one day at least, we pay homage to the person who dried our tears, fixed scraped knees and wounded egos, and times without number offering a consoling shoulder …mother.