While Mother’s Day has been and continues to be known as a holiday honoring motherhood, there is a unique history behind it that I am excited to share with you!
The American celebration of Mother’s Day officially became a U.S. holiday in 1914, while the origins of Mother’s Day was created by Anna Jarvis in 1908. However, celebrations of motherhood can be traced all the way back to the ancient Greeks and Romans who held festivals in honor of the mother goddesses Rhea and Cybele.
Following her mother’s 1905 death, Anna Jarvis worked on starting Mother’s Day as a way to honor the sacrifices mothers made for their children. Once she brought the idea up to a Philadelphia department store owner named John Wanamaker, he backed it and in May 1908 she was able to organize the first official Mother’s Day celebration at a Methodist church in Grafton, West Virginia. That same day, Mother’s Day events started up at many of Wanamaker’s retail stores throughout Philadelphia.
Following the success of her first Mother’s Day event, Anna Jarvis was inspired to see her holiday added to the national calendar. Arguing that American holidays were biased toward male achievements, she started a massive letter writing campaign to newspapers and politicians urging the importance of a special day honoring motherhood. By 1912 many states, towns and churches had adopted Mother’s Day as an annual holiday. Anna’s persistence finally paid off in 1914 when President Woodrow Wilson signed a measure making the second Sunday in May, Mother’s Day, an official holiday.
Jarvis had hoped that Mother’s Day would involve wearing a white carnation as a badge and visiting one’s mother or attending church services. Once it became a national holiday, however, merchants and card companies took over and capitalized on its popularity. Jarvis then spent the latter part of her life trying to take back Mother’s Day as an official holiday as she felt it became too commercialized.
Mother’s Day continues to be celebrated by presenting mothers with gifts and flowers and giving mothers a day off from activities such as cooking or household chores. Anna Jarvis would frown upon the fact that it has now become one of the biggest holidays for consumer spending. Despite the amount of commercialization of Mother’s Day, we have no one but Jarvis to thank for helping us to set aside a specific day that we can show extra appreciation for our mothers and all that they do.
For all our ‘Most Everything Vintage’ mothers… we wish for you a very special day.
Thanks for reading!