Anne Jarvis-The Reason We Have Mother’s Day Now

mother and son holding hands isolated on white background

Mother’s Day is a nationally celebrated holiday that allows each family individually to recognize their mother, and thank her for all the sacrifices and things she does for them. So, how did this holiday come about? How did celebrating mothers become a part of our national tradition? Anne Jarvis and her daughter, also named Anne Jarvis, are recognized as the founders of the holiday in the United States. We can all thank her for the fact that we now have a day where moms are nationally recognized.

Anne Jarvis and her mother can be credited for the following:

1. Mother’s Day being a celebration and honoring of mothers both living and dead.
2. Mother’s Day being established as a national holiday.
3. Mother’s Day being celebrated on the second Sunday in May.
4. Mother’s Day being a singular possessive.

First, let’s look at how the idea came about. Anne Maria Reeves Jarvis, mother of Anne Maria Jarvis, was a social activist and organizer during and after the Civil War. She was born in September of 1832, in Culpeper, Virginia, and died in May of 1905 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. After her death, in 1907, her daughter, Anne Jarvis wanted to honor her mom in a special way. So, she arranged for every mom in the congregation at the St. Andrew’s Church in Grafton, West Virginia, to be given a white carnation. There were 500 passed out in total. Each mother in the congregation was given one.  A year later, she again honored and celebrated her mother by holding a memorial in her honor, also in Grafton, West Virginia. This was held in May. These two events inspired her to honor her mom yearly, and she embarked on a campaign to make it a recognized holiday.

It took a few years for this to come about, but she started making steps forward. In 1912, she created the Mother’s Day International Association. She also took the time to trademark the phrase  “second Sunday in May” and “Mother’s Day”.  She also decided to make sure that the apostrophe is placed properly so that it is a singular possessive, where each family gets to honor their mom singularly, not as a plural possessive where they commemorate every mother in the world. She pushed for this to be a holiday that everyone could participate in at a personal level.

President Woodrow Wilson declared it a national holiday in 1914, and kept the spelling Anne Jarvis wanted, with it being singular, so that each mom is celebrated on an individual level. Since, it has stayed a national holiday, and one where women everywhere are honored and celebrated. The holiday celebrates moms that are both living and dead.

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