Who started the idea of Mother's Day?
The idea of Mother's Day is thought to have begun with an idea
by a young Appalachian homemaker, Anna Jarvis, who from 1858 had
attempted to improve sanitation through what she called Mothers'
Work Days. She organized women throughout the Civil War to work for
better sanitary conditions for both sides, and in 1868 she began
work to reconcile Union and Confederate neighbors.
Jarvis's ideas influenced suffragette Julia Ward Howe to call
for Pacifism and Disarmament by mothers. Ward Howe proclaimed the
first Mothers' Day in Boston in 1870, calling for it to be
celebrated annually from 1872. Commonly, early activities involved
groups of mothers meeting, whose common factor was that their sons
had fought or died on opposite sides of the American Civil War.
Julia Ward Howe was unable to obtain formal recognition of a
Mothers' Day for Peace.
Anna Jarvis' daughter Anna was influenced by both her own
mother's work, and the work of Julia Ward Howe. After her mother
died, the younger Anna Jarvis started her own campaign to start a
memorial day for women. The first Mothers' Day was celebrated as a
memorial to mothers in Grafton, West Virginia, on 10 May 1908, in
the church where the elder Anna Jarvis had taught Sunday School.
After this, the custom caught on, spreading eventually to 45 states
(and later other nations). Finally the holiday was declared
officially by states beginning in 1912, and in 1914 President
Woodrow Wilson declared the first national Mother's Day.
Mother's Day is not to be confused with "Mothering Sunday" in
the UK. Celebrated in March every year, this celebration of mothers
began when people set aside this day to attend church services to
honor the Virgin Mary. It gradually developed into the festival it
is today, as honoring mothers everywhere.