Mother’s Day: A Brief History

Anna Jarvis
Anna Maria Jarvis

A woman named Anna Maria Jarvis is credited with creating Mother’s Day. Anna was never a mother herself, but was determined to honor her own mother. The mother of Anna Maria Jarvis was a social activists and founder of the Mothers’ Day Work Clubs in her community. In addition Anna Maria Jarvis’s mother was an active member of the Andrews Methodist Episcopal Church. One day Anna Maria Jarvis heard her mother pray in church saying:

“I hope and pray that someone, sometime, will found a memorial mothers day commemorating her for the matchless service she renders to humanity in every field of life.” 

The First Mother’s Day

Anna Maria Jarvis always remembered her mother’s prayer. At her mother’s graveside service Anna said, “…by the grace of God, you shall have that Mother’s Day.” Three years after her mother’s passing, In May of 1908, Anna organized a memorial service in Grafton, West Virginia to honor her mother and all mothers. This memorial service was the first official observance of Mother’s Day. To mark this event, The International Mother’s Day Shrine was placed on main street in Grafton, Virginia on May 15, 1962.

This memorial observance quickly gained popularity as Anna campaigned for it to become an official holiday. Anna choose the second Sunday in May for Mother’s Day since it marked the anniversary of her mother’s death.

Official U.S. Holiday

U.S. President Woodrow Wilson, in 1914 proclaimed that all flags be flown on the second Sunday in May as an expression of love and reverence for the mothers of our country. From this time forward Mother’s Day has been an official U.S. holiday.

Mother’s Day not only become a U.S. holiday, but it was quickly adopted by many other countries and is celebrated annually by many nations around the world.

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