Many folks aren’t aware that Mother’s Day is the brainchild of a daughter of the Appalachian Mountains. Anna Jarvis was born in Webster, West Virginia as one of thirteen children born to Granville and Ann Jarvis. Anna’s mother was very active in church and community service, therefore, serving as a role model for her young daughter. In fact, Anna thought to develop a day of honor while listening to one of her mother’s Sunday school lessons regarding the sacrifices of mothers.
Three years after her mother’s death, Anna Jarvis held the first memorial service on May 10, 1908, to honor her mother and other mothers. She held the service at the Andrews Methodist Episcopal Church in Grafton, West Virginia. Jarvis began a writing campaign to lobby businesses, churches, and politicians to spread the movement to a larger level. In 1912, Jarvis incorporated the Mother’s Day International Association to create a more organized effort to continue the cause. In 1914, her efforts finally paid off as President Woodrow Wilson officially proclaimed Mother’s Day as a national holiday.
Department stores and florists began massive marketing efforts to exploit the day for increased sales. Rather than joy, Jarvis grew increasingly enraged due to the ongoing commercialization of “her” holiday. She spent the final years of her life railing against this trend. In fact, Jarvis eventually attempted in vain to have the holiday rescinded. Her passionate fervor was stoked as a result of her belief the day had been lost to money hungry opportunists.
Sadly, Anna Jarvis spent the final four years of her life in a Pennsylvania sanitarium. Her body rests next to her mother in Bala Cynwyd, Pennsylvania. In an interesting footnote, Anna Jarvis didn’t become a mother herself as she never married.
Happy Mother’s Day to all the mothers from us here at TAP. – Shane