The History of Mother’s Day in the U.S.

It’s nearly time for Mother’s Day in the United States- a holiday that’s history is bittersweet. It began with a young woman’s fight to honor her mother and family’s memory, and ends with the same woman fighting to abolish the holiday she nearly single-handedly created.

But just because Anna Marie Jarvis was over Mother’s Day – more about that below – doesn’t mean you get off the hook!

Don’t forget to plan some quality time with the best mom in the world (yours of course!), using the free allcal app. Our app makes it really easy to get your family together, by letting you share calendars and link events. You can even set up reminders so the more forgetful relatives don’t forget about Mother’s Day!

The History of Mother’s Day

Jarvis reportedly got the idea for Mother’s Day when she was just 12 years old, after overhearing her mother pray for a day to honor mothers. After her mother’s death in May of 1905, Jarvis decided to make that wish come true. Two years later, Jarvis began holding a May memorial event for her mother at a West Virginia church. In 1908, she handed out white carnations – her mother’s favorite flower. Jarvis then contacted a powerful Philadelphia merchant to help her create an official holiday.

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By 1910, West Virginia became the first state to honor mothers on the 2nd Sunday of May. Jarvis didn’t stop at the state level. She spearheaded a letter writing campaign that eventually got Congress to recognize the holiday. On May 9, 1914, President Woodrow Wilson signed a bill to create the first national Mother’s Day holiday.

Traditionally, Americans were supposed to spend their holiday plans attending church with their family, then writing letters of affection to their mothers. People also wore carnations during the holiday – pink and red ones to honor living mothers and white ones to honor those who had passed. As the holiday’s popularity grew, more and more carnations were sold each year.

A Mommy-Day Market

Greeting card companies soon recognized the potential market, and began selling Mother’s Day cards to each family who wanted one. Jarvis was “enraged” by the cards, which she saw as a lazy alternative to giving handwritten letters. By 1924, Jarvis petitioned to abolish the holiday, which she felt was becoming, “an excuse to sell greeting cards, candy, flowers and other items.”Jarvis was even arrested in 1930 for causing a scene at a Mother’s Day carnation sale.

Despite all her effort to honor mothers, Jarvis died childless and with no family in 1948. More than 100 years later, Mother’s Day is still widely celebrated across the United States. Some parts of Jarvis’ original vision remain. Many families still attend religious events with their mothers and give them cards and flowers. Unfortunately, there is also evidence supporting Jarvis’ fear that Mother’s Day would become an excuse to sell greeting cards. But here at allcal, we try to be a little more positive.

The allcal app team knows that Mother’s Day (like many holidays) is what you make of it. In the beginning, Jarvis simply wanted to remember an extremely important person in her life and urge others to do the same. Even though some people may have lost sight of her vision, many more recognize the importance of honoring those who helped them grow.

So whatever your holiday plans are for this Mother’s Day, we hope the free allcal app can help make getting your family together a little easier. Create an event, then share it with loved ones in a few simple steps. Then take all the time you saved, buy a blank card and write a letter to your mother, grandmother, mentor etc. We think Anna Marie Jarvis would appreciate it.

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