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The History of Mother’s Day

Posted by Michael Geiger on

Believe it or not, but Mother’ Day was not invented by a big company looking to sell greeting cards. It is felt that the roots of this day date back to an annual Greek festival to honor Rhea and Cybele who were the mothers of many gods. Originally, Christians celebrated this festival on the fourth Sunday of Lent.

160 years ago in the United States Anna Jarvis organized a day to make people aware of the poor health conditions in her town. She felt that it would be best if mothers promoted this day so she called it “Mother’s Working Day”.

Julia Ward Howe who was a poet and pacifist in Boston (also lyricist of the Battle Hymn of the Republic) organized a day to rally mothers to promote peace. She felt mothers hurt more over the loss of life than anyone else.

Anna Jarvis died in 1905 and her daughter, also called Anna Jarvis, campaigned to follow in her mother’s work to promote a day for mothers. She worked with businessman, John Wannamaker and Presidents Taft and Roosevelt to create this special day. In 1913 the House of Representatives adopted a resolution requiring federal government officials to wear white carnations on Mother’s Day. In 1914 a bill was signed by Woodrow Wilson acknowledging Mother’s day as a national holiday.

The early years of Mother’s Day people attended church with their mothers, wrote them letters of gratitude, and gave flowers and gifts. As gift giving grew in popularity during this holiday, Anna became angry. She felt that the commercialization of this holiday diminished the purpose of the holiday. In 1948, Anna said that she regretted establishing the mother’s day holiday.

Regardless of Anna’s feelings, Mother’s Day is extremely popular in the United Sates. Mother’s Day is the most popular day of the year to dine out, telephone lines have their busiest traffic day of the year, and it is the biggest day of the year to send roses or flowers. Regardless, sons and daughters take time out of their busy schedules to honor and express their appreciation to their moms for everything they have done for them.