The origin of Mother’s Day

I am loving the Facebook profile pics posted of everyone’s mothers. A Twitter friend remarked how glamorous they look in the old photos compared to us mothers today. Indeed, we live in much more casual times. The original Mother’s Day in the U.S. was instigated, so to speak, by social activist Julia Ward Howe, author of the words to the Battle Hymn of the Republic. Howe had been sickened by the carnage of the Civil War and wanted women to unite against war, a killer of their children. Her perseverance and activism resulted in the second Sunday in June to be set aside as Mother’s Day for Peace.

Our modern Mother’s Day was introduced by Anna Jarvis whose mother, Ann Marie Reeves Jarvis, worked to improve sanitary conditions for Civil War soldiers on both sides and later heal the rift between Union and Confederate neighbors in Virginia through annual Mother’s Friendship Day gatherings. Anna cared for her mother many years before death and afterwards missed her greatly. She felt children ought to appreciate their mothers while they were still alive, and her persistence succeeded in establishing a national Mother’s Day in 1914 to honor all mothers, living and dead. Anna was particular about the location of the apostrophe, as she wanted individual mothers to be celebrated, not an impersonal group commemoration. By the 1920s Mother’s Day had already been commercialized, and Anna was very disappointed.

Happy Mother’s Day to all moms out there. One of my Facebook friends posted a cartoon about mothers having Supermom capes in their closets—I hope you have some kick-butt boots to go with your cape.


About moonbridgebooks

Co-author of Cherry Blossoms in Twilight, a WWII Japan memoir of her mother's childhood; author of Poems That Come to Mind, for caregivers of dementia patients; Co-author/Editor of Battlefield Doc, a medic's memoir of combat duty during the Korean War; life writing enthusiast; loves history and culture (especially Japan), poetry, and cats
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