Mother’s Day is a time to honour the mothers in our lives with flowers, thoughtful greeting cards, and perhaps even a spa treatment or brunch. These tokens and experiences may be wonderful, but they are far from the original Mother’s Day. We invite you to join us on a trip back in time to learn
Mother’s Day is a time to honour the mothers in our lives with flowers, thoughtful greeting cards, and perhaps even a spa treatment or brunch. These tokens and experiences may be wonderful, but they are far from the original Mother’s Day. We invite you to join us on a trip back in time to learn more about Ann Reeves Jarvis, the trailblazing social activist and community organizer who inspired Mother’s Day.
The Mother Behind Mother’s Day
Mother Jarvis, a former Sunday school teacher, used her natural ability to connect with people by creating her own moms’ group during the Civil War. This moms’ group was not like the others: it had a noble goal: to save lives.
The Mothers’ Day Work Clubs were named for their goal: to teach mothers basic child-rearing skills and health to reduce infant mortality. In the 1800s, scarlet fever, tuberculosis, and diarrhoea conditions were common and killed many. Mother Jarvis lost eight of her children below 7 years old and wanted to help ease this terrible crisis.
Mother’s Day Work Club meetings saw medicine distribution and inspections for food and bottled milk. Infant diarrhoea can be fatal due to contamination of milk. Mothers would work together to find help for mothers who couldn’t care for their children. This is how you build that village! Mother Jarvis understood, however, that it would require more than just a mother’s love and commitment for all children to be safe. She worked tirelessly with her group, advocating for better public health, universal medical access, and food safety on both sides. She encouraged her Mothers’ Day Work Clubs to care for wounded soldiers regardless of whether they were fighting for Confederate or Union sides. Mother Jarvis, who was known for her ability to bring moms together after the Civil War, took her gift for bringing moms closer even further. She organized Mothers’ Friendship Days get-togethers between Union moms and Confederate moms to encourage community and reconciliation.
Mother Jarvis knew from childhood that mothers had the special ability to advocate for peace and promote change. Many claims that Mother Jarvis encouraged mothers to organize how miners and factory workers did. She also wanted to establish a system for compensation for the mother’s work at home. Mother Jarvis hoped that someday, everyone would recognize the mother’s efforts.
How Mother’s Day Was Started
Anna Reeves Jarvis, Mother Jarvis’ daughter, fought tirelessly to fulfil her mother’s wishes after her death in 1905. To honour her mother’s invaluable work as a peacemaker and her dedication to social action, she organized services at her mother’s church. Anna continued to lobby politicians for Mother’s Day to be made a federal holiday.
In 1915, Mother’s Day was officially made a national holiday on the second Sunday of May, the anniversary of Mother Jarvis’s death. Anna was thrilled! She asked that all children across the country write or visit her on Mother’s Day. She imagined the day as a private acknowledgement of all the moms does for their families.
Soon, Anna was replaced by florists and greeting card companies. She didn’t like this at all. She stated in 1920 that Mother’s Day should not be the expensive, burdensome and wasteful gift day that Christmas or other special days have become.
Ann attempted to reshape Mother’s Day shortly after becoming a national holiday. She supported boycotts of florists that raised flower prices each May and pressured government officials to cancel Mother’s Day events. She spent her entire life trying to repeal the holiday.
Mother’s Day Today
Anna Reeves Jarvis, right: Mother’s Day, as we all know, is a gift-heavy event. Americans spend approximately $245 on Mom. We believe there is a happy middle ground between Anna’s vision, her mom’s hard work, and the current holiday. We should not only shower moms with flowers and presents but also support all mothers. Moms deserve more than a bouquet once a year.