Happy Birthday to Mother’s Day! It was 100 years ago that US President Woodrow Wilson signed a proclamation declaring the second Sunday in May as Mother’s Day. a national holiday, “as an expression of our love and reverence for the mothers of our county.”
However, the struggle to get mother’s Day recognized as a national holiday was an uphill battle for its founder, Anna Marie Jarvis. Starting her campaign after the death of her mother in 1905, Jarvis petitioned (in addition to Wilson) two US Presidents, Theodore Roosevelt and William Howard Taft, to no avail.
The persistent Jarvis continued her efforts to have mothers recognized. Resigning from her job so that she could singularly focus her attention on her efforts, Jarvis worked tirelessly writing letters to business executives, politicians at the state and national level, and church groups to enlist them in her cause.
Founder Mother’s Day, Anna Jarvis’ original intention was Mother’s Day would be a day to honour the sacrifices women made 4 their families. — FatherBob (@FatherBob) May 11, 2014
Mother’s Day is singular possessive because its founder, Anna Jarvis, said it should focus on individual moms. — Mark Allen (@EditorMark) May 10, 2014
It was Jarvis who started the tradition of wearing white carnations in remembrance and reverence of mothers, “Its whiteness is to symbolize the truth, purity and broad-charity of mother love; its fragrance, her memory, and her prayers. The carnation does not drop its petals, but hugs them to its heart as it dies, and so, too, mothers hug their children to their hearts, their mother love never dying.”
Her crowning achievement came on May 9, 1914, when President Wilson signed the proclamation she fought so hard for.
Unfortunately it did not take long for the opportunistic confection, floral, and greeting industries to try and profit off of the nation’s new holiday. By the 1920s, its founder was fighting hard against this.
Jarvis decried, “Commercialization of Mother’s Day is growing every year. Since the movement has spread to all parts of the world, many things have tried to attach themselves because of its success…. Write a letter to your mother. No person is too busy to do this. Any mother would rather have a line of the worst scribble from her son or daughter than any fancy greeting card or telegram.”
Miss. Jarvis continued, “Mother’s Day is a family day of reunions, messages to the absent and the spirit of good will to all. It is a constructive movement emphasizing the home as the highest inspiration of our individual and national lives. Mother’s Day is a day of sentiment — not sentimentality; a day for everybody, but is well named Mother’s Day, for where better can sentiment start?”
Mother’s Day founder, Anna Marie Jarvis, passed away in 1948, having never married nor had any children. She was buried next to her mother. However, the Mother’s Day she worked so hard to get nationally recognized is celebrated worldwide. Albeit not always in the manner she had originally envisioned.
Sadly, but not surprisingly, Father’s Day did not become a national holiday until 1972, a full 58 years later.