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Few will dispute a claim on the importance of mothers. This recognition, in the early 20th century, promulgated into Mother’s Day, a celebration for every second Sunday in May.

The modern American Mother’s Day began at St Andrew’s Methodist Church in Grafton, West Virginia, when 44-year-old Anna Jarvis sent on May 10, 1908 white carnations as part of a memorial ceremony for her mother Ann, who had died three years before. Carnations, her mother’s favorite flower, symbolzed a mother’s purity.

Six years later, Congress passed a law to establishing the second Monday in May, Mother’s Day. On May 9, 1914, President Woodrow Wilson signed a proclamation that all Americans then display the American flag to express “our love and reverence for the mothers of our country.”[1]

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Anna Jarvis (Photo from Wikimedia Commons)

For each year since, the president has issued a proclamation to commemorate Mother’s Day. In his 1934 statement, President Roosevelt wrote, “It is not my purpose this year to issue a special proclamation on the subject as I believe that the attention of the American people will be so devoted to the cause of that day that repeated formal action on the part of the Chief Executive is unnecessary.”[2]

While officially recognized in the 1910s and 1920s, the work of her mother Ann in the later decades of the 1800s actually inspired Anna. Her mother and others promoted a Mothers’ Day (plural, not singular) for mothers nation- and worldwide to band together, foster unity, and help those less fortunate mothers who suffered losses after the American Civil War and European Franco-Prussian War.[3]

Anna began that first Mother’s Day at St. Andrew’s with the goal of sentiment, not sale. However, it did not take long for the floral and greeting card industries to commercialize Mother’s Day. Eventually restaurants jumped on board, offering limited time Mother’s Day meals. This franchising of Mother’s Day grieved Anna, and she fought for years and years after to rescind the holiday.

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Carnations for Mother’s Day (Photo from Reader’s Digest)

Though now commercialized, Mother’s Day can still nonetheless have significance. Mother’s Day, as Anna Jarvis intended it, is a day to invest time in the woman who invested so much time in you.

To all the wonderful mothers (including mine especially), thank you for your love and devotion!

To anyone who has a mother, take a little time with her today. She is an invaluable friend.

[1] President Wilson’s proclamation for Mother’s Day
[2] President Roosevelt’s statement for Mother’s Day
[3] 7 fun facts about Mother’s Day