Mother’s Day History

Mother’s Day is celebrated in the US on the second Sunday in May. This annual holiday recognizes mothers, motherhood and maternal bonds, and the positive contributions made by maternal figures to society. Certainly, we are all familiar with the traditions, which include Mother’s Day gifts, breakfast in bed and so much more….

…But where does the tradition come from?

Mother’s Day attempts began in the mid-1800s, mainly made by women’s peace groups. A common activity was the support groups for mothers whose sons had fought in the Civil War. These meetings remained local, however.  In 1868, Ann Jarvis created the first committee to launch a “Mother’s Friendship Day.” The purpose was “to reunite families that had been divided during the Civil War.” She had planned to add on the idea, expanding the day to a yearly memorial for mothers, but passed away in 1905 before it had really achieved resonance. Her daughter Anna Marie Jarvis went on to continue her efforts.

Another attempt was led by Julia Ward Howe, who launched a “Mother’s Day” anti-war movement on June 2nd in 1872. A Mother’s Day Proclamation was included in the observance. This went on for nearly ten years before it was cut off.

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The first truly public attempt was made by Frank E. Hering, the president of the Fraternal Order of Eagles, in 1908. The statement called for “a national day to honor our mothers.” The holiday we celebrate today was established by Anna Marie Jarvis. Following her mother’s death, Jarvis ensured that the day was named a national holiday. It was officially declared in 1910 in West Virginia.