About Mother’s Day: How it began, and who started it all (1909)

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About Mother's Day - Anna Jarvis portrait

A little backstory about Mother’s Day & its founder (1948)

In the early years of the 20th century, Anna Jarvis started a movement that has spread throughout the world: the custom of observing the second Sunday in May as Mother’s Day.

Anna Jarvis worked five years before she got the Governor of West Virginia to proclaim Mother’s Day, and four more years to get Congress to make it a national observance. Then, after the Day was well-established, she devoted her time and money to fighting the commercialism that was creeping into the observance.

Jarvis died November 24, 1948, in Philadephia. She was 84, penniless and blind.  But the work that she did will continue, and do its bit toward the improvement of mankind, long after the works of captains and kings have been forgotten. – Adapted from The Pittsburgh Press (Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania), November 28, 1948

About Mother’s Day: How it was first observed (1909)

A white carnation, a symbol of purity, beauty and love. It was in evidence in every direction on Sunday. The occasion was the annual Mother’s Day, adopted by the United States Senate.

The white carnation, the characteristic flower was worn by hundreds, as a remembrance of a departed parent or for respect to a living one. Last year, the day was not observed in such a general manner as it was yesterday. A person without the flower was conspicuous, and one with it was looked upon with respect.

What is more to be honored than respect to mother? She may have departed from earth and she may still grace the household. She may be absent, but still, her face and guiding hand can be felt. If she has departed, never lose the opportunity to do honor to her memory. If she is still with you, show her your esteem.

Early on Saturday, the local florist exhausted his supply of white carnations, and it was necessary to substitute a shade of pale pink.

MORE: A classic collection of vintage cards for Mother’s Day

In the various churches on Sunday morning, the atmosphere was fragrant with the intoxicating. delicate perfume of the carnation. It was sweet to inhale as is also sweet the memory or advice of mother. At the men’s meeting at the skating rink, as well as at the union evangelistic services in the evening, the air was laden with the perfume of the flower.

It is to be hoped that the Mother’s Day idea will live and grow from year to year, and will be observed from coast to coast and from Maine to Mexico. A noble idea with a noble foundation.

The day which a gentlewoman set aside for special reverence to the memory of her mother, because it was on the day four years previous that her mother had died, is fast becoming the day on which Americans everywhere will pay tribute to the memory of their mothers, or show special love for their living or render homage in some way to the spirit of mother-love.

The woman who may be termed the founder of mother’s day, Miss Anna Jarvis of 2031 North Twelfth Street, Philadelphia, had no idea of having her suggestion spread beyond her own city when, last year, she set about having May 9 observed as a special day for honoring the mother.

But the suggestion of such observance was one which found a quick response in the hearts of men and women everywhere; and yesterday, the second Mother’s Day, found cities throughout the country observing in a special manner the date one woman had set aside as her mother’s own.

Mother's Day carnations

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