This Sunday May 9th, we celebrate Mother’s Day. But, did you know that the Mother’s Day holiday in the U.S. wasn’t born out a desire to simply treat mothers to a day off or buy gifts? It essentially began as a women’s movement to better the lives of other Americans.
The creation of a national Mother’s Day is primarily attributed to three women: Ann Reeves Jarvis a lifelong activist who combat unsanitary living conditions and taught Sunday School lessons during wartime; Julia Ward Howe who volunteered for the U.S. Sanitary Commission, helping them to provide hygienic environments for hospitals and ensure sanitary conditions during the care of sick and wounded soldiers, and Ann’s daughter, Anna M. Jarvis who fought to memorialize her mother’s lifelong activism. Following her mother’s death, Anna set about campaigning to have Mother’s Day marked as an annual holiday, as she felt that this was a perfect way in which to honor the sacrifices that mothers make for their children.
With Mother’s Day now successfully added to the national calendar, it was soon capitalized by merchants who realized that they could pocket from its popularity.
Understandably, Jarvis became enraged at the commercialization of this special day. As a result, she spent the rest of her life campaigning to have Mother’s Day removed from the calendar although, ultimately, she was unsuccessful in doing so.
Today, Mother’s Day endures and evolves. Just as Mother’s Day was the creation of multiple women, the modern Mother’s Day celebrates the varied roles of mothers today. We commemorate the many ways mothers have fought to better the lives of their children, from social welfare to non-violence. We also honor the way mothers have raised and nurtured their children with love and courage.
Happy Mother’s Day!