Mother's Day (North America)

Mother's Day (North America)

Mother's Day holiday, in the United States and Canada, celebrates motherhood generally and the positive contributions of mothers to society. It falls on the second Sunday of each May. It is the result of a campaign by Anna Marie Jarvis (1864–1948), who, following the death of her mother on May 9, 1905, devoted her life to establishing Mother's Day as a national, and later an international, holiday. The first observances of both Mother's Day and Father's Day were held in the state of West Virginia.

Precursors to the American Mother's Day

Precedents for the currently observed "Mother's Day" include:

*"Mothering Sunday" in the UK and Ireland is on the fourth Sunday of Lent. It was originally a time when Catholics were supposed to travel to attend Mass in their "Mother Church" (the regional cathedral) rather than in their local parish. By the Reformation, it had changed into an occasion for children to visit parents. An 1854 source mentions a couplet: "On 'Mothering Sunday,' above all other/Every child should dine with its mother." [Baker, Anne Elizabeth (1854), "Glossary of Northamptonshire Words and Phrases," J. R. Smith, [,M1 p. 33] ]

*"Mother's Day Work Clubs" organized by Anna Jarvis's mother, Ann Maria Reeves Jarvis (1832-1905), to improve sanitation and health in the area. These clubs also assisted both Union and Confederate encampments controlling a typhoid outbreak, and conducted a "Mothers' Friendship Day" to reconcile families divided by the Civil War.

*The "Mother's Day" anti-war observances founded by Julia Ward Howe in 1872 ["The First Anniversary of 'Mother's Day'", "The New York Times," June 3, 1874, p. 8: "'Mother's Day,' which was inaugurated in this city on the 2nd of June, 1872, by Mrs. Julia Ward Howe, was celebrated last night at Plimpton Hall by a mother's peace meeting..."]

Both are sometimes claimed as the "founder of Mother's Day," implying that Julia Ward Howe's June 2nd occasion and Anna Jarvis' second-Sunday-in-May event are one in the same. It is even suggested that an anti-war and feminist holiday was co-opted by the forces of sentimentality, tradition, and Hallmark Cards. [Carbone, Angela (2001), "Hamp sets tribute to Julia Howe; 'Battle Hymn' author founded Mother's Day." Springfield, Massachusetts "Union-News," May 18, 2001, p. B04: "Today's hearts-and-flowers approach to Mother's Day would have appalled its founder, famed American poet Julia Ward Howe."] But although Mother's Day was celebrated in eighteen cities in 1873, it did not take root. It continued in Boston for about ten years under Howe's personal financial sponsorship, then died out. [ [ Julia Ward Howe's Mother's Day for Peace] ,]

Julia Ward Howe's Mother's Day, celebrated on June 2nd, was first proclaimed around 1870 by Julia Ward Howe's Mother's Day Proclamation, and Howe called for it to be observed each year nationally in 1872. As originally envisioned, Howe's "Mother's Day" was a call for pacifism and disarmament by women. See Mother's Day Proclamation.

Early "Mother's Day" was mostly marked by women's peace groups. A common early activity was the meeting of groups of mothers whose sons had fought or died on opposite sides of the American Civil War.

The first known observance of Mother's Day in the U.S. occurred in Albion, Michigan, on May 13, 1877, [{ Michigan Historical Marker] ] the second Sunday of the month. According to local legend, Albion pioneer, Juliet Calhoun Blakeley, stepped up to complete the sermon of the Rev. Myron Daughterty, who was distraught because an anti-temperance group had forced his son and two other temperance advocates to spend the night in a saloon and become publicly drunk. In the pulpit, Blakeley called on other mothers to join her. Blakeley's two sons, both travelling salesmen, were so moved that they vowed to return each year to pay tribute to her and embarked on a campaign to urge their business contacts to do likewise. At their urging, in the early 1880s, the Methodist Episcopal Church in Albion set aside the second Sunday in May to recognize the special contributions of mothers.

On February 4, 1904, South Bend, Indiana resident Frank E. Hering made the first Public Plea and started his own campaign for a national observance of "Mother's Day" in Indianapolis, Indiana.

Jarvis's Mother's Day

In 1907, Mother's Day was first celebrated in a small, private way by Anna Marie Jarvis in Grafton, West Virginia, to commemorate the anniversary of her mother's death two years earlier on May 9, 1905. Jarvis's mother, named Anna Maria Reeves Jarvis, had been active in Mother's Day campaigns for peace and worker's safety and health since end of American Civil War. The younger Jarvis launched a quest to get wider recognition of Mother's Day. The celebration organized by Jarvis on May 10, 1908 involved 407 children with their mothers at the Andrews Methodist Episcopal Church in Grafton (this church is now the Mother's Day Shrine] ). Grafton is, thus, the place recognized as the birthplace of Mother's Day.

The subsequent campaign to recognize Mother's Day was financed by clothing merchant John Wanamaker. As the custom of Mother's Day spread, the emphasis shifted from the pacifism and reform movements to a general appreciation of mothers. The first official recognition of the holiday was by West Virginia in 1910. A proclamation designating the second Sunday in May as Mother's Day was signed by U.S. President Woodrow Wilson on May 14, 1914


In May 2008, most of the Republican representatives in Congress voted against a resolution memorializing Mother's Day, after voting for it, in an apparently mistaken procedural motion. [Dana Milbank, "Republicans Vote Against Moms; No Word Yet on Puppies, Kittens", Washington Post, Friday, May 9, 2008; page A03, found at [ Washington Post article] . Accessed May 14, 2008.]

Current dates

The will fall on the following dates in the next few years:

  • 2008 - May 11
  • 2009 - May 10
  • 2010 - May 9
  • 2011 - May 8
  • 2012 - May 13
  • 2013 - May 12
  • 2014 - May 11


    External links

    * [ "Battling The Mother's Day Monster"] , Ottawa Citizen, May 11, 2008

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