Did you know…
that the correct spelling of Mother’s Day was decreed by the founder of the holiday? It is so.
Anna Jarvis, in a celebration of her deceased mother’s life, wanted the name to honor
each individual mother within her own family, thus the singular possessive (Mother’s Day) was so declared.
The first Mother’s Day to be celebrated in the United States was held by Anna in her hometown of Grafton, WV at the St. Andrew’s Methodist Church, in 1908. Her efforts to establish such a holiday began in 1905. West Virginia was the first state to make it a state holiday (1910). By 1911, all US states were celebrating the day and in 1914, President Woodrow Wilson made it official with a proclamation naming the second Sunday in May as the official day for Mothers.
Sounds like a happy ending? Well, with humans involved there is always room for a glitch (glitches). Sure enough, the holiday soon became commercialized, which was a point of contention for Anna. She organized boycotts against companies that were guilty of exploiting the holiday. In 1925, she disrupted a meeting of an organization that was
selling Mother’s Day carnations as a fundraiser. She was arrested for disturbing the peace. The charges were later dropped, but the damage had been done.
In 1934, the U.S. Postal Service issued a Mother’s Day commemorative stamp. The portrait on the stamp was Whistler’s Mother.
Anna Jarvis spent every cent she had fighting law suits relating to the holiday. At the age of 80, penniless and bitter, she was placed in a mental institution where she died 4 years later. She never had children.
Today, in these strangest of times, as we celebrate our mothers and our children celebrate us, let’s take a moment to pay homage to Anna Jarvis, who devoted her entire adult life to making sure that mothers are celebrated.
(and for you fathers who “need to know”, the first Father’s Day was celebrated on June 19, 1910, but it wasn’t for another sixty years that it became a national holiday… stay tuned, I’ll post that story on June 21 st)