Sunday, May 10, 2020, is Mother’s Day in the United States and Canada, which means that moms everywhere will be remembered with cards, flowers, chocolates and a whole lot of gratitude. But how did this day of appreciation come to be?
The American incarnation of Mother’s Day was created by Anna Jarvis in 1908 when she held a memorial for her mother at St. Andrew’s Methodist Church in Grafton, West Virginia, which now holds the international Mother’s Day Shrine. Her campaign to make Mother’s Day a recognized holiday in the United States began in 1905, the year her mother, Ann Reeves Jarvis, died. Ann Jarvis had been a peace activist who cared for wounded soldiers on both sides of the American Civil War, and created Mother’s Day Work Clubs to address public health issues. Anna Jarvis wanted to honor her mother by continuing the work she started and to set aside a day to honor all mothers because she believed a mother is “the person who has done more for you than anyone in the world.”
The idea of a setting aside a special day to commemorate mothers caught on, and by 1911 many American states and Canadian provinces had begun celebrating Mother’s Day on the second Sunday in May.
In 1914 American President Woodrow Wilson signed a proclamation designating that Mother’s Day be held on the second Sunday in May as a national holiday to honor mothers as well as motherhood, maternal bonds, and the influence of mothers in society. He asked Americans on that day to give a public “thank you” to their mothers and all mothers. The first Mother’s Day in Canada was held May 8, 1914, and while it is celebrated on the second Sunday in May it is not a public holiday or bank holiday and typically involves small celebrations and gift-giving to one’s mother, grandmother, or other important female figures in one’s family.
Why do we celebrate Mother’s Day? It’s an occasion which is now celebrated in various parts of the world to express respect, honor and love towards mothers. For me personally it’s a day to show my mother how special she is and how much I appreciate all she has done for me and my family. And, as a mother of two grown children who show their love and gratitude on Mother’s Day and “every day of the year,” I enjoy having a special day that celebrates me and the most important job I have ever had.
To all the moms out there, especially you young moms coping with motherhood during an unprecedented and stressful time and you moms who can’t spend time with your kids because of the pandemic, I wish you a happy day in spite of it all. You’re moms, I know you will be flexible!