When Did We Start Celebrating Mother’s Day?

mother's day, history

When did we start celebrating Mother’s Day in the United States?

Mother’s Day was first celebrated in 1907, when Anna Jarvis held the first Mother’s Day service of worship at Andrews Methodist Episcopal Church in Grafton, West Virginia.

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.

In 1908, U.S. Congress rejected her proposal to make Mother’s Day an official holiday, joking that they would also have to proclaim a Mother-in-law’s Day, Grandparents’ Day, Siblings’ Day, etc. However, because of the persistent efforts of Anna Jarvis, by 1911 all U.S. states observed the holiday, with some of them officially recognizing Mother’s Day as a local holiday (the first being West Virginia, Jarvis’ home state, in 1910). In 1914, Woodrow Wilson signed a proclamation designating Mother’s Day, held on the second Sunday in May, as a national holiday to honor mothers.

Although Jarvis, who started Mother’s Day as a liturgical service, was successful in founding the celebration, she became resentful of the commercialization of the holiday. By the early 1920s, Hallmark Cards and other companies had started selling Mother’s Day cards. Jarvis argued that people should appreciate and honor their mothers through handwritten letters expressing their love and gratitude. She protested at a candy makers’ convention in Philadelphia in 1923, and at a meeting of American War Mothers in 1925.

By this time, carnations had become associated with Mother’s Day, and the selling of carnations by the American War Mothers to raise money angered Jarvis, who was arrested for disturbing the peace.

Today, Mother’s Day is celebrated around the world. Mothers will be gifted with flowers, chocolates, jewelry and of course fragrances.

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