The origins of Mother's Day

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Mother's Day (United States)
Mother's Day (United States)
Annual holiday celebrated in the United States on the second Sunday in May
Observed by
United States
Commercial, cultural, religious
Second Sunday in May
Mother's Day, as celebrated in the United States, originated from the efforts of Anna Jarvis, following the death of her mother, Ann Reeves Jarvis, in 1905. Ann Reeves Jarvis had been a social activist who organized "Mother's Work Days" to improve sanitation and reduce infant mortality by teaching women how to care for their children. Inspired by her mother's work and dedication, Anna Jarvis sought to honor her and all mothers' contributions to society. The first official Mother's Day celebration took place on May 10, 1908, at St. Andrew's Methodist Church in Grafton, West Virginia, and simultaneously at a large event organized by John Wanamaker in Philadelphia. The church service in Grafton was specifically held to honor all mothers, a concept that Anna Jarvis campaigned vigorously to promote. She envisioned Mother's Day as a personal celebration between mothers and their families, emphasizing the singular possessive "Mother's," which signifies that each family should honor its own mother, not all mothers collectively. Anna Jarvis's campaign to make Mother's Day a recognized holiday was successful, and in 1914, President Woodrow Wilson officially established the second Sunday in May as Mother's Day in the United States. This day was chosen to commemorate the anniversary of Ann Jarvis's death, which was on May 9. Despite its heartfelt beginnings, Anna Jarvis became increasingly concerned with the commercialization of Mother's Day, as it strayed from her original vision of personal and heartfelt expressions of love. She spent much of her later life trying to reform the holiday and combat the commercial forces that had overtaken it, expressing disappointment that the day had become more about profit than genuine appreciation of mothers. Internationally, Mother's Day is celebrated in various forms and on different dates around the world, often reflecting different historical or cultural events for each country. For example, in the United Kingdom, Mothering Sunday is celebrated, which has its origins in the 16th century and is linked to the Christian practice of visiting one's mother church during Lent. Thus, the origins of Mother's Day are deeply rooted in the efforts of women to improve societal conditions, honor maternal bonds, and recognize the contributions of mothers to their families and communities.
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