Since I am lucky enough to have one of the best mothers on the planet, I decided to do a post on the celebration of Mother’s Day. What a great surprise to find out that this holiday actually has a Civil War connection.
Though the earliest historical records of a society celebrating a Mother deity can be found among the ancient Egyptians, the holiday was first suggested in the United States after the American Civil War by social activist Julia Ward Howe. Howe, who wrote the words to the Battle Hymn of the Republic, was horrified by the carnage of the Civil War, and began a one-woman peace crusade, making an impassioned “appeal to womanhood” to rise against war.
Howe’s idea was apparently influenced by Ann Marie Reeves Jarvis, a young Appalachian homemaker who attempted to improve sanitation through what she called “Mothers Friendship Day” in 1858. In the 1900s, at a time when most women devoted their time solely to their family and homes, Jarvis was working to assist in the healing of the nation after the Civil War.
It was Jarvis’ daughter, Anna Jarvis, who finally succeeded in introducing Mother’s Day in the sense we celebrate it today. Anna had dedicated her life to her mother’s cause to establish Mother’s Day to “honor mothers, living and dead.”
As a result of her efforts, the first Mother’s Day was observed on May 10, 1908, by a church service honoring her mother in Grafton, W.V. Grafton is now home to the International Mother’s Day Shrine.
From there, the custom spread to 45 states, until on May 9th, 1914, President Woodrow Wilson made the first official announcement proclaiming Mother’s Day as a national holiday. He asked Americans to give a public expression of reverence to mothers through the celebration of Mother’s Day.
A very happy Mother’s Day to all of the mothers out there!