Sunday, May 10, 2009

Happy Mother's Day

Mother's Day
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The History of Mother's Day
In May of 1905, Anna M. Jarvis made a vow that would change the face of calendars forever. Her mother had longed for a special holiday to honor mothers, and Anna vowed to finish the job her mother had started. It would be nine years of hard work before President Wilson signed the official Mother's Day resolution, making official the holiday that started as a way to honor one special mother.
Anna's mother was Anna Maria Reeves Jarvis, the founder of the Mother's Day Work Clubs. She organized these clubs to improve sanitary conditions in her city. The club raised money for medicines, made bottled milk and food inspections, and provided domestic help for mothers who had tuberculosis. The clubs spread throughout the area. During the Civil War, the clubs acted as neutral agents, serving the soldiers of both sides. This was a time of personal tragedy for Anna, as she watched eight of her 12 children die before reaching adulthood.

Near the end of the war, Anna organized a Mother's Friendship Day at the courthouse to bring people of both sides together in peace. Many were afraid the event would backfire and lead to violence, but the event was peaceful and so successful that it was repeated for many years.

Anna died, and her daughter Anna led a small service designed to honor her mother on May 12, 1907, two years after her mother's death. She then went to work making Mother's Day a national holiday. She and her supporters wrote thousands of letters to businessmen, politicians and clergymen, seeking their help in establishing the holiday. In 1908, the first official Mother's Day celebrations were held in West Virginia and in Philadelphia in 1908. Philadelphia was the first state to make Mother's Day an official holiday in 1910, and by the next year, most states had declared a Mother's Day holiday.

After Woodrow Wilson had declared Mother's Day a national holiday in 1914, Anna may have thought her work was over. Unfortunately, the holiday took on a commercial tone, and in 1923, Anna filed a lawsuit to stop a Mother's Day festival. Later, she was arrested for disturbing the peace at a Mother's Day convention. She was furious to find the white carnations she had designated as the official Mother's Day flower being sold. "I wanted it to be a day of sentiment, not profit," she protested. She eventually admitted to being sorry she had ever started the holiday, and she spent all of her inheritance trying to return the holiday to its loving intentions.

Anna Jarvis, the woman who gave us Mother's Day, never married and never became a mother herself, although she received Mother's Day cards from around the world every year.

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