Mother’s Day – A Short History

I did some research about the establishment of Mother’s Day.  This is what I found according to Wikipedia and Mother’s Day Central:

The American Mother’s Day has historical roots dating back to the Civil War.  Early activities were marked by local peace groups of mothers whose sons had fought or died on opposite sides of the war.

Ann Jarvis created a committee in 1868 to establish a “Mother’s Friendship Day” the purpose was “to reunite families that had been divided during the Civil War.”  Ms. Jarvis also used this opportunity to teach women in her Mothers Friendship Clubs the basics of nursing and sanitation.  This education saved thousands of lives.

Ann Jarvis wanted to expand “Mother’s Friendship Day” into an annual memorial for mothers, but she died in 1905 before the celebration became a national holiday.  Ms. Jarvis’s daughter, Anna Marie Jarvis, continued her Mother’s dream to establish the celebratory day, with the help of a Philadelphia merchant.  The first “official” Mother’s Day service was on May 10, 1908 in the Andrew’s Methodist Episcopal Church in Grafton, West Virginia.  Ann Jarvis was a member of this congregation and a Sunday school teacher.

In New York City, Julia Ward Howe (who wrote The Battle Hymn of the Republic) led a “Mother’s Day” anti-war observance on June 2, 1872, which was accompanied by a Mother’s Day Proclamation.  Ms. Howe had grow to be troubled by the death of the Civil War, so she called on Mother’s to come together and protest what she saw as the senselessness of their Sons killing the Sons of other Mothers.  The observance continued in Boston for about 10 years under Howe’s personal funding, then died out.  

In 1908 a U.S. Senator from Nebraska, Elmer Burkett, proposed making Mother’s Day a national holiday.  The proposal was defeated, but by 1909 forty-six states were holding Mother’s Day services.  In 1910 West Virginia declared an official holiday and other states soon followed.  On May 8, 1914, the U.S. Congress passed a law designating the second Sunday in May as Mother’s Day and requesting a proclamation. On May 9, 1914 President Woodrow Wilson issued a proclamation declaring the first national Mother’s Day as a day for American citizens to show the flag in honor of those mothers whose sons had died in war.

Mother’s Day is one of the most commercially successful celebrated occasions. Mother’s Day is now the most popular day of the year to dine out at a restaurant in the United States, according to the National Restaurant Association. 

According to IBISWorld, a publisher of business research, Americans will spend approximately $2.6 billion on flowers, $1.53 billion on pampering gifts—and another $68 million on greeting cards.  In addition, in 2008 Mother’s Day generated about 7.8% of the U.S. jewelry industry’s annual revenue, with custom gifts.

No matter how your family observes Mother’s Day, make sure you make it special for the woman you call Mom!

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