A Mother's Day Story

In many countries, today is celebrated as Mother's Day. Children will give their mothers gifts, cards, flowers and even special lunches or dinners. Yet they do not know the history behind this day. This is a pity as the story behind it is a beautiful one.

Mrs Anna Marie Jarvis was a remarkable woman and mother and loved and respected not only by her family, but all of the society she lived in. She gave birth to eleven children but only four lived to adulthood. Even though she had a large family to care for, she was active in the activities of her church and civic affairs. She died on 9 May 1905 at the age of 72. On the day she was laid to rest, the bell of Andrews Methodist Episcopal Church in Grafton was tolled seventy-two times in her honour.

She was also in charge of the primary department of the Andrews Methodist Episcopal Church school when the church was completed in 1873. For more than two decades, she taught the students of the school. Anna Jarvis, her daughter, was in the class when one day, after a lesson on the "Mothers of the Bible" she closed the lesson with this short prayer: "I hope that someone, sometime will found a memorial mothers day commemorating her for the matchless service she renders to humanity in every field of life. She is entitled to it"

Anna never forgot this prayer. And at her Mothers graveside service, many years later, she recalled the prayer and said, "...by the grace of God, you shall have that Mothers Day".

In 1907, two years after her mother passed away, Miss Anna began an aggressive campaign to establish a National Mothers Day in the USA. On the second death anniversary of her mother she led a small tribute to her mother at Andrews Methodist Church and by the next year, Mother's Day was also celebrated in her own city of Philadelphia In 1911, Mother's Day was celebrated in almost every state of the Union and in 1914, President Woodrow Wilson made the official announcement proclaiming Mother's Day as a national holiday that was to be held each year on the second Sunday of May. Thus Miss Anna realised her mother's dream of honouring mothers.

The story had a sad ending though. Miss Anna were so disappointed in the manner in which people celebrated the day, especially the sending of printed greeting cards, that she and her sister Ellsinore, spent the remaining days of their lives and their family inheritance campaigning against the holiday. Both died in poverty. A quote demonstrating her disgust reads: "A printed card means nothing except that you are too lazy to write to the woman who has done more for you than anyone in the world. And candy! You take a box to Mother—and then eat most of it yourself. A pretty sentiment!"

Anna died at the age of 84 on November 24, 1948. She was buried beside her mother and on the day of her funeral, the bell on the Andrews Church in Grafton was tolled eighty-four times in her honour.
(The International Mother's Day Shrine and Museum will preserve, promote and develop through education, the Spirit of Motherhood, as exemplified by the lives of Ann Maria Reeves Jarvis and Anna Jarvis, and the institution of Mother's Day that they established." This beautiful, historic structure was built in 1873. The former Andrews Methodist Church is the International Mother's Day Shrine. Miss Anna Jarvis wanted the first Mother's Day service to be held in the former church, where her mother taught Sunday school for more than 20 years.)
Interesting note: People also wore white and red Carnations to pay tribute to their mothers, according to the tradition started by Anna Jarvis. Anna chose carnations because they were her mother's favourite flowers. White carnation was her most favourite because it represented the purity of a mother's heart. A white carnation was to be worn to honour deceased mothers, and a red one to honour a living mother.


Peggy said...

Thank you for sharing this. I had no idea and am very glad to learn the origin of the day honouring Mothers.

Anonymous said...

it means so much more when you actually know why you are doing something. i must say, i think we have the same history book because my blog today also contains a little info on anna jarvis. yours is a little more advanced though. thanks for a great blog and happy mothers day to you, hope your little ones spoiled you rotten

A human kind of human said...

Peggy, Nice hearing from you.

Anonymous, now I am curious, please let me know where to find your blog so I can read it.

Anonymous said...

flamingo 7

maureen-kirby said...

very interesting story anne well done love maureen xx

maureen-kirby said...

realy enjoyed your story maureen xx

A human kind of human said...

Hi Maureen, Thanks for visiting my blog. It is so nice to hear from you.