Anna Jarvis of
Philadelphia is credited with bringing about the official
observance of Mother's Day. Her campaign to establish such
a holiday began as a remembrance of her mother, who died
in 1905 and who had, in the late 19th century, tried to
establish "Mother's Friendship Days" as a way to heal the
scars of the Civil War.
Two years after
her mother died, Jarvis held a ceremony in Grafton, W. Va.,
to honor her. She was so moved by the proceedings that she
began a massive campaign to adopt a formal holiday honoring
In 1910, West
Virginia became the first state to recognize Mother's Day.
later, nearly every state officially marked the day.
In 1914, President
Woodrow Wilson officially proclaimed Mother's Day as a national
holiday to be held on the second Sunday of May.
But Jarvis' accomplishment
soon turned bitter for her. Enraged by the commercialization
of the holiday, she filed a lawsuit to stop a 1923 Mother's
Day festival and was even arrested for disturbing the peace
at a war mothers' convention where women sold white carnations
-- Jarvis' symbol for mothers -- to raise money.
"This is not
what I intended," Jarvis said. "I wanted it to be a day
of sentiment, not profit!"
When she died
in 1948, at age 84, Jarvis had become a woman of great ironies.
Never a mother herself, her maternal fortune dissipated
by her efforts to stop the commercialization of the holiday
she had founded, Jarvis told a reporter shortly before her
death that she was sorry she had ever started Mother's Day.
She spoke these
words in a nursing home where every Mother's Day her room
had been filled with cards from all over the world. Today,
because and despite Jarvis' efforts, many celebrations of
Mother's Days are held throughout the world.
do not all fall at the same time, such countries as Denmark,
Finland, Italy, Turkey, Australia and Belgium also celebrate
Mother's Day on the same day as the United States.