Posted by: Pastor | May 8, 2010

HISTORY OF MOTHER’S DAY

HISTORY OF MOTHER’S DAY

As it was earlier “Mother’s Day” in the U.S. 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. There were several local celebrations in the 1870s and the 1880s, but none achieved resonance beyond the local level.

In 1868 Ann Jarvis created a committee to establish a “Mother’s Friendship Day” whose purpose was “to reunite families that had been divided during the Civil War”, and she wanted to expand it into an annual memorial for mothers, but she died in 1905 before the celebration became popular. (Her daughter Anna Jarvis would continue her mother’s effort shortly later, see below.)

In New York City, Julia Ward Howe led a “Mother’s Day” anti-war observance in 2nd June, 1872 which was accompanied by a Mother’s Day Proclamation. The observance continued in Boston for about 10 years under Howe’s personal sponsorship, then it died out.

Several years later, a Mother’s Day observance on May 13, 1877 was held in Albion, Michigan, over a dispute related to the temperance movement. 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 traveling 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.

Holiday establishment

In its present form, Mother’s Day was established by Anna Marie Jarvis, following the death of her mother Ann Jarvis on May 9, 1905, with the help of a Philadelphia merchant called John Wanamaker. A small service was held in 12 May 1907 in the Andrew’s Methodist Episcopal Church in Grafton, West Virginia, where Anna’s mother had been teaching Sunday school. But the first “official” service was in 10 May 1908 in the same church, accompanied by a larger ceremony in the Wanamaker Auditorium in the Wanamaker’s store on Philadelphia. She then campaigned to establish Mother’s Day as a U.S. national holiday, and later as an international holiday.

The holiday was declared officially by the state of West Virginia in 1910, and the rest of states followed quickly 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. In 1934, U.S. President Franklin D. Roosevelt approved a stamp commemorating the holiday.

The Grafton’s church, where the first celebration was held, is now the International Mother’s Day Shrine and is a National Historic Landmark.

Carnations

Carnations have come to represent Mother’s Day, since Anna Jarvis delivered 500 of them at its first celebration in 1908. Many religious services held later copied the custom of giving away carnations. This also started the custom of wearing a carnation on Mother’s Day. The founder, Anna Jarvis, chose the carnation because it was the favorite flower of her mother. In part due to the shortage of white carnations, and in part due to the efforts to expand the sales of more types of flowers in Mother’s Day, the florists promoted wearing a red carnation if your mother was living, or a white one if she was dead; this was tirelessly promoted until it made its way into the popular observations at churches.

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