Although it seems like something we should have been doing for a very long time, Mother's Day is still a relatively young celebration. Many people assume that the holiday was cooked up by greeting card executives, but it was actually started by West Virginian Anna Jarvis and Bostonian Julia Ward Howe. The gifts we give moms on Mother's Day are just an added bonus.
Anna Jarvis's mother had long championed for an international day to commemorate the passionate work of mothers. She had been deeply involved in raising awareness of the poor health conditions in her community and passed her passion on to her daughter. After Anna's mother passed away, Anna started her own campaign to see that dream fulfilled.
On May 9, 1906, Anna began a letter-writing campaign, singing the praises of her mother's work. Local leaders soon took notice and on the second anniversary of Anna's mother's death, they held a memorial service in her honor.Gifts of white carnations were given to each mother present because that bloom had been Anna's mother's favorite. Anna continued to campaign for the holiday to be internationally recognized as a day to celebrate and honor mothers. In 1914, President Woodrow Wilson signed a bill to recognize Mother's Day as a national holiday.
Suffragette Julia Ward Howe is as well known for her advocacy of Mothers' Day as she is for writing the Battle Hymn of the Republic. While working with the widows and orphans of the American Civil War, Julia became deeply committed to promoting world peace. In 1870, she called for women everywhere to rise up in support of her crusade against war. She issued a declaration, calling for all women to step across national boundaries in search of peaceful resolutions.
Julia's continued advocacy for an end to war, and her promotion of a Mother's Day for Peace, meshed with Anna's Mother's Work Day to become the Mother's Day that is now celebrated around the world .
This Mother's Day, spend some time with your own mom, supporting the work of Anna Jarvis and Julia Ward Howe. Bring the White Ribbon Campaign to your community in support of an end to violence against women, join a letter writing campaign to end violence overseas or volunteer at a women's shelter or grief counseling centre to help others in your community. Making a difference together is a great gift and a special way to honor mothers everywhere.