Who Invented Mother’s Day? Most of us have a treasury of nice memories of our mothers. Even those of us who do not usually had some type mother figure in our lives who provided us with a safe haven, a comforting shoulder to cry on, and good advice when we needed to make a difficult decision. Perhaps a sister, aunt, grandmother, neighbor, or close friend.
It may surprise you to know that the woman who is responsible for Mother’s Day was never a mother, herself, but she was
a daughter who loved her own mother dearly. Anna M. Jarvis was a school teacher who never married; the daughter of a Methodist minister. When her mother became ill, Miss Jarvis was her devoted caretaker for 15 years, until the mother’s death in 1905.
After her loss, Miss Jarvis set out to find a permanent way to honor the memory of her mother, and came up with the idea
of a special day to honor ALL mothers, not just her own. Unfortunately, the idea of a national day to honor mothers did not catch on easily. For several years, Miss Jarvis waged a letter-writing campaign and a barrage of letters from she and her friends began to arrive at the homes of influential people, all the way up to the president, himself.
Miss Jarvis coined the name, “Mother’s Day,” and obtained a copyright for the name from the U.S. Patent Office. Finally,
after years of speeches and letter writing, her efforts paid off, and Mother’s Day became a national observance when President Woodrow Wilson signed it into effect in 1914.
Anna Jarvis lived another 34 years and was able to see her idea grow, not only across the United States, but also to
spread to many other countries. She spent much of her time promoting the new holiday. Unfortunately, however, the day,
like many other holidays, became so commercialized that Miss Jarvis had deep regrets that she had been instrumental
in bringing the day about. Much of Miss Jarvis’ remaining money was spent in a fight to keep Mother’s Day from being promoted as nothing more than another occasion for people to buy expensive gifts, but she did not succeed.
When Anna Jarvis passed away in 1948, a wreath of 43 carnations, her mother’s favorite flower, adorned her grave,
depicting the 43 countries that now celebrated Mother’s Day.
With Mother’s Day, 2006, almost upon us, why not remember the true meaning of the day and present your Mother a gift of lasting value? (Not that mothers don’t appreciate flowers, perfume, and candy-I know-I’m a mother.) But how much more would a plant or tree, a special book donated to the local library in your mother’s name, a monetary gift to a struggling college student, or a food basket dropped off at her church mean? And how much more it would have meant to Anna Jarvis, who envisioned a day to honor all Mothers, not just another day to benefit shopkeepers.