Origin of Mother’s Day

Anna Jarvis

All the celebrations and festivals have some or the other reason in their roots as their origin. And they are all supported by several traditions. These traditions may vary region to region but their ultimate objective is quite similar. Same is the case with the Mother’s Day celebrations…

Mothers Day Origin In The United Kingdom (England)

The modern way of celebrating the holy Mother’s Day has its roots back into the seventeenth century England culture.
Today the mother’s day is celebrated with families. This is the day when people bring flowers and gifts to their moms. But originally all this begins with the “Mothering Sunday”, which was the fourth Sunday in Lent.
The Mothering Sunday was the day in earlier times when all the children who were away from their homes were allowed to return their homes. However they were away from their homes either for learning a trade or to work as servants to earn livelihood.
Gradually it became a tradition that on this day the family used to gather for a mid-Lenten feast in which the Mother was treated as the ‘Special Guest’. As the children visited their moms on this day in order to spend entire day with their mothers they used to give treats of cakes to their mothers. They also used to get wildflower bouquets and other such things for their mothers.
The same ‘Mothering Sunday‘ is today celebrated as and popularly known as the Mother’s Day.

Mother’s Day Origin In the United States Of America

In the United States Of America (USA) the situation was quite different. There the early English settlers often disapproved of more secular holidays and this is why the Mothering Sunday tradition never really took hold in the USA. Even some early attempts made there in this regard were mixed with women’s suffrage and other peace movements.
In the USA it was Julia Ward Howe, the author of the words to the Battle Hymn of the Republic, who came with the idea of an International Mother’s day in 1872. It is noticeable here that her objective behind this was not exactly to honor mothers but to celebrate the peace.
Another important name associated with present form of Mother’s Day celebrations is of Anna Jarvis. Anna Jarvis was the person who made lots of efforts for establishing Mother’s Day, as a national celebration. Jarvis held an annual gathering “Mother’s Friendship Day”, with an objective to heal the pain of the victims and those affected of the Civil War. After the death of her mother in 1905, Anna began a campaign for the establishment of an official Mother’s Day in order to commemorate and pay tribute to her mother.
It could be said that Anna Jarvis devoted her entire life making efforts to have Mother’s Day declared as a national holiday. She began her struggle in the spring of 1908. As her first step made in this direction she wrote to the Superintendent of Andrew’s Methodist Church in Grafton, West Virginia. This was the place where her mother had taught Sunday School classes for over 20 years. In her letter to the Superintendent she urged that a Mother’s Day service should be held in honor of her mother.

First Mother’s Day Celebration Service

As a result of her efforts the first official Mother’s Day was celebrated on May 10, 1908 at Andrew’s Methodist Church, where her mother had taught. 407 persons attended this celebration. For this function held at the church in Grafton Anna Jarvis sent 500 white carnations. One carnation was to be worn by each son and daughter and two by each mother in attendance.

Another Mother’s Day Celebration Service

Another Mother’s Day celebration service was held in Philadelphia. Philadelphia was the place where Anna resided with her brother. She celebrated Mother’s Day there later that afternoon.

Official Mother’s Day

Finally in 1914 President Woodrow Wilson declared that Mother’s Day should be celebrated as a national holiday on the second Sunday in May.