The celebration of Mother’s Day began in the United States in the early 20th century and is not only a modern celebration honoring mothers but also motherhood, maternal bonds, and the influence of mothers in society as well. Mother’s Day was first celebrated in 1908.
The story of Mother’s Day comes from the determination of Anna Jarvis, a daughter from Grafton, WV, who after her own mother’s death, resolved to pay tribute to not only her mother, but all other mothers of the world.
She got the inspiration of celebrating Mother’s Day quite early in life. When she was 12 years old, her mother said a class prayer to conclude their lesson on Mothers of the Bible: “I hope that someone, sometime will found a memorial Mother’s Day commemorating her for the matchless service she renders to humanity in every field of life. She is entitled to it – Amen”. Anna never forgot this prayer and in 1905, when her mother passed away, as she stood at her mother’s graveside service, her last words to her were “By the grace of God, you shall have that Mother’s Day.”
In 1907, Anna began an aggressive campaign to establish a National Mother’s Day in U.S. On the second anniversary of her mother’s death, she led a small tribute to her mother at her church. The participants wore white and red carnations (representing Anna’s mom’s favorite flower). A white one was to honor a deceased mother and a red one to honor a living mother. The very next year, the entire city of Philadelphia honored Mother’s Day as well. In 1909, forty-five states including Puerto Rico, Hawaii, Canada and Mexico observed the day.
After that, Anna and her supporters began to write hundreds of letters to those holding the positions of power pushing for the need for a national Mother’s Day. Though they were met with opposition by some, including Sen. Henry Moore Teller, who thought it was “absolutely absurd,” and “trifling”, finally, in 1914 Woodrow Wilson signed the proclamation making Mother’s Day, an official national holiday to be held every year, on the second Sunday in May.
While Anna was very happy about her success in the founding Mother’s Day, by the 1920’s she became very angry and resentful of all the commercialization. Hallmark and candy companies alike were exploiting the honor of mothers by trying to make a profit. Anna intended for this holiday to be an opportunity for people to appreciate and honor mothers by writing a personal letter by hand, visiting and expressing love and gratitude, rather than buying gifts and pre-made cards. She was so angry that she even tried to have the holiday reformed and also protested at a candy makers’ convention in 1923 (which only got her arrested). Despite her protests, Anna’s holiday was adopted by other countries and it is now celebrated all over the world.
So however you celebrate, to all of you mothers, grandmothers, step-moms, moms-to-be and motherly figures, from all of us at Bodyrich Fitness Company to you – thank you for all you do and Happy Mother’s Day!
Certified Personal Trainer & Fitness Nutritionist