Who started Mother’s Day and why?

There are a few women who helped inspire Mother’s Day. According to, the first was Ann Reeves Jarvis, who helped organize “Mothers’ Day Work Clubs” to teach local West Virginia women how to care for their children. This was prior to the Civil War, and in the years after, she also started “Mothers’ Friendship Day,” where moms gathered with former soldiers from both sides to help foster reconciliation.

Then, you have Julia Ward Howe, a politically active abolitionist and suffragette. Howe wrote her “Mother’s Day Proclamation” in 1870, which called for moms to unite to promote world peace. Three years later, Howe campaigned for June 2 to become “Mother’s Peace Day.” Unfortunately, neither stuck.

When did Mother’s Day become a holiday?

The credit for modern Mother’s Day usually goes to a woman named Anna Jarvis, daughter of Ann Reeves Jarvis. Anna once said she was inspired to create the celebration by a prayer she overheard her mother give: “I hope and pray that someone, sometime, will found a memorial mother’s day commemorating her for the matchless service she renders to humanity in every field of life. She is entitled to it.”

Anna began advocating for a national day to honor mothers and their sacrifices after Ann’s death in 1905. She campaigned tirelessly for years, writing letters to politicians, business leaders, and even the president himself. In 1908 she organized the first official Mother’s Day celebration at a Methodist church in West Virginia with great success. Finally, her hard work paid off in 1914 when Woodrow Wilson signed a proclamation officially designating the second Sunday in May as Mother’s Day.

What is the real meaning of Mother’s Day?

Anna Jarvis, the “mother” of Mother’s Day, remained unmarried her whole life and did not have children of her own. Yet as an educated woman with deep respect for her own mother, she believed strongly that Mother’s Day should have a sentimental significance to honor mothers and motherhood.

To her, the white carnation was emblematic of the meaning of the day, saying that it “symbolizes the truth, purity and broad-charity of mother love; its fragrance, her memory, and her prayers. The carnation does not drop its petals, but hugs them to its heart as it dies, and so, too, mothers hug their children to their hearts, their mother love never dying. When I selected this flower, I was remembering my mother’s bed of white pinks.”

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