Anna Jarvis

Who is credited with the founding of Mother's Day in the United States?
And the answer: Anna Jarvis.
Photo credit: NMGiovannucci

Mother's Day is celebrated on the second Sunday in May in the United States and Canada but other countries celebrate it on different days. The United Kingdom, for instance, celebrates Mother's Day on the fourth Sunday of Lent every year.

While Mother's Day is now a nationally recognized day of celebration and thanks, the first official Mother's Day in the United States was a rather somber affair. On May 10, 1908 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, Anna Jarvis delivered a touching homage to her late mother in front of a crowd of around 5,000 people. Around the same time, Jarvis paid to have 500 white carnations sent to the Andrew Methodist Episcopal Church in West Virginia, where she used to teach Sunday school. While these efforts were by no means Jarvis' first attempts to celebrate mothers, they were the first to receive monetary support— noted Philadelphia businessman John Wanamaker had invested his financial and political support in Jarvis' cause, and even offered his storefront to Jarvis to speak.

Spurred by the success of the event, Jarvis began a letter-writing campaign to have Mother's Day recognized as a national holiday. Six years later, President Woodrow Wilson did just that. On May 9, 1914, President Wilson issued a presidential proclamation declaring that Mother's Day would be designated as a day to "publicly express our love and reverence for the mothers of our country."

However, as soon as Mother's Day gained its status as a national holiday, the greeting card and floral industry began to capitalize on its money-making potential. As sales ramped up, Jarvis responded by denouncing any commercialization of the holiday, claiming that any attempt to make money off the holiday was in bad faith. Instead, Jarvis argued for personal notes, gestures and acts of love from one family member to another.

This Mother's Day, give back to your loved ones with a gift made from love. Find inspiration for personalized, crafted ideas here.    


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