You can thank a woman named Anna Jarvis, the founding mother of Mother's Day, for this special holiday.

By Roxanna Coldiron
March 28, 2019
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Ditte Isager

Mark your calendars for the second Sunday in May: That's Mother's Day, a holiday that revolves around showing your love and gratitude toward the moms, grandmothers, and mothers-in-law in your life. Most of us have grown up marking this holiday with gift-giving traditions. In kindergarten, we made fingerprint cards, clay necklaces, and coupon books-and the joy on Mom's face when we gave her our crafts made us happy. As an adult, you've probably shifted to giving more elevated presents, like handmade gifts, bouquets of flowers, and a mouthwatering brunch for the entire family to enjoy. Ultimately, the goal is for mothers everywhere to feel loved and appreciated on this special day, but have you ever considered the origins of this meaningful holiday?

The writer and suffragette Julia Ward Howe pioneered Mother's Day in the United States when she wrote "A Mother's Day Proclamation" in 1870. She called mothers to a passionate purpose of bringing their sons home from the war. She called for there to be a "general congress of women without limit of nationality" to gather together and form a powerful alliance for world peace.

In the same era, another woman named Ann Reeves Jarvis organized a special group for mothers to teach them how to raise their children. The groups were called Mothers' Day Work Clubs. Women found strength in each other as they bonded over their shared experiences. The Civil War had torn the country apart and Jarvis wanted to help mothers put it back together. She founded Mothers' Friendship Day in 1868. Its purpose was to reconcile the differences of Union and Confederate soldiers through their mothers, who played the role of healers and peacemakers.

When she passed away, Ann Jarvis' daughter (Anna) was devastated. The memorial service was held on May 12, 1907, at the church to which her mother had devoted her faith and service. Anna Jarvis and her love for her mother spread throughout the United States as she wrote letters to congressmen to make it an official day for celebrating mothers. In 1914, President Woodrow Wilson proclaimed that the second Sunday in May would be the day that we would honor our mothers. Sunday, May 10, of that year became the first nationally recognized celebration of Mother's Day in the United States. Government officials were required to display the flag on all government buildings in observation of the holiday, and Americans were encouraged to honor their mothers with the United States flag in the same manner.

While the modern day celebration of candy, flowers, gifts, and lavish meals bears little resemblance to Howe's original idea, the sentiment remains strong. Flowers are the first thing that we think of to get our mothers. According to ProFlowers, Anna Jarvis played a role in the tradition of giving carnations. Her mother's favorite flower had been the white carnation, and Jarvis made sure to include the flower in abundance at her memorial service. Mother's Day bouquets are a symbol of love and appreciation for our mothers. Use a combination of roses, carnations, lilies, and tulips to create the perfect bouquet that shows your gratitude toward your mother. Like Jarvis, you can also gift whatever flower is your mother's favorite (even if it's not a traditional Mother's Day flower). The important thing is that we recognize our mothers and what they have done for us. It is a day to honor them, thank them, and remember them.

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