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The History of Mother's Day

If there's anyone who deserves a day of honor, it's Mom. But where did the tradition of Mother's Day come from?

While celebrated all over the world, Mother's Day as we know it in the US was first created by Anna Jarvis in the early 1900's. Anna's mother was an enthusiastic social activist and was very active in her church. It is believed that Anna found her first inspiration for the holiday after hearing a Sunday school lesson taught by her mother who closed it with a prayer about honoring mothers with a special day.

"I hope and pray that someone, sometime, will found a memorial mother's day commemorating her for the matchless service she renders to humanity in every field of life. She is entitled to it." - Ann Reeves Jarvis, mother of Anna Jarvis

With her mother's encouragement, Anna went on to get her college degree at what is now known as Mary Baldwin University. After completing her studies, Anna returned home to Grafton, West Virginia to work in the public school system and as an active Sunday school teacher, always keeping a very close relationship with her mother.

Three years after her mother's death, in 1908, Anna had a memorial service for her mother and for all of the other mothers in her church's congregation. It gave her a way to act on her inspiration originally gained through her mother's Sunday school teachings. As if to start off the tradition of giving flowers, Anna supplied the mothers with 500 white carnations to help celebrate the day.

"Its whiteness is to symbolize the truth, purity and broad-charity of mother love; its fragrance, her memory, and her prayers. The carnation does not drop its petals, but hugs them to its heart as it dies, and so, too, mothers hug their children to their hearts, their mother love never dying." -  Anna Jarvis

Later in life, while continuing to support the sentimental and symbolic aspects of the day, Anna attempted to counter the commercial forces at play in expanding the traditions that celebrate the holiday. She especially challenged the idea of using cards or candy as substitutes for truly honoring and appreciated Mom. Ironically, it is said that the flower and greeting card companies stepped up to support Anna in her later years.

Thank you Anna Jarvis. And thank you Mom. For all of your love, caring and support. For all of the time you spend worrying about us. And for all of your unsung devotion to us kids.

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