Happy Mother’s Day to all the mother’s out there! This holiday has an amazing and interesting history – it truly was never intended to be a Hallmark Holiday!
The original Mother’s Day was started by Julia Ward Howe, author of the Battle Hymn of The Republic, in 1872 and it was designed to be an anti-war holiday. The US had just finished the bloody Civil War, and many mothers had seen their families destroyed as their husbands and sons died on the battlefield. Ward Howe wrote the Mother’s Day Proclamation as a way to call on women to exert their moral authority, as they had minimal political authority, to influence the country toward pacifism.
This idea did not take off (I know you are shocked) and Mother’s Day did not start gaining much traction until Anna Jarvis reframed it as a way to celebrate mothers. In 1914 Woodrow Wilson supported the idea, and congress soon signed the holiday into law. Coming full circle, Anna Jarvis pushed for the holiday in an attempt to memorialize her own mother, Anna Reeves Jarvis, who organized women to take care of soldiers in the Civil War, and who also was a pacifist activist after the Civil War. (Sensing a theme?)
Much to Anna Jarvis’ horror, Mother’s Day quickly became a retail bonanza! She was so bothered by the consumer response to the holiday, that nine years later she started campaigning to have Mother’s Day abolished.
So have a wonderful Mother’s Day. You can take this holiday as a way to shower your mother with flowers, chocolates and gifts, but the founders of this day would not be impressed. Anna Jarvis wanted you to write a heartfelt letter to your mother, appreciating her. Julia Ward Howe wanted mothers to realize what power they have, and use it to change the world for the better. This is an amazing holiday – and it has nothing to do with buying anything.