Although many of us celebrate Mother’s day, we may not know much about its history. Mother’s Day in the United States is annually held on the second Sunday of May. It celebrates motherhood and it is a time to appreciate mothers and the mother figures in our individual and collective lives. This is celebrated in different ways. Many people give gifts, cards, flowers, candy, or some other act of appreciation.
The origins of Mother’s Day are attributed to different people. Many believe that two women, Julia Ward Howe and Anna Jarvis were important in establishing the tradition of Mother’s Day in the United States. Other sources say that Juliet Calhoun Blakely initiated Mother’s Day in Albion, Michigan, in the late 1800s. Her sons paid tribute to her each year and urged others to honor their mothers. I personally believe that mothers have been celebrated since the beginning of time, and having a day that we can do it collectively makes it that more impactful.
We do have some insight into the early origin of collectively celebrating Mother’s Day. Around 1870, Julia Ward Howe called for Mother’s Day to be celebrated each year to encourage pacifism and disarmament amongst women. It continued to be held in Boston for about ten years under her sponsorship, but died out after that. In 1907, Anna Jarvis held a private Mother’s Day celebration in memory of her mother. Her mother, Ann Jarvis had organized “Mother’s Day Work Clubs” to improve health and cleanliness in the area where she lived. Anna Jarvis launched a quest for Mother’s Day to be more widely recognized.
In 1908, Anna Jarvis was instrumental in arranging a service in the Andrew’s Methodist Episcopal Church in Grafton, West Virginia, which was attended by 407 children and their mothers. The church has now become the International Mother’s Day Memorial. It is a tribute to all mothers and has been designated as a National Historic Landmark.
Although Mother’s Day has become a day that focuses on recognizing mothers, it has also become an increasingly important event for businesses in recent years. This is particularly true of restaurants and businesses manufacturing and selling cards and gift items. Mother’s Day is the second-biggest holiday in terms of consumer spending and this year Americans are expected to spend between $18 billion and $20 billion dollars.
Each one of us can celebrate Mother’s day this year. Whether it is with your biological mother or someone you hold near and dear, you can show them love. For those who do not want to be a part of the commercialization of this day, you can make your own card, write a poem, take a picture together, or do something that is more personal. At the end of the day, if you make one mother smile, you can rejoice knowing that on that day, the whole world is smiling with her.
Timothy Houston is an author, minister, and motivational speaker who is committed to guiding positive life changes in families and communities. For copies of his book, questions, comments or more information, go to www.tlhouston.com.