Mother's Day (United States)

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Mother's Day
Mother's day gifts.jpg
Examples of handmade Mother's Day gifts
Observed by United States of America
Type Cultural, commercial
Observances Church services, distribution of carnations, and family dinners[1]
Date Second Sunday in May
2013 date May 12  (2013-05-12)
2014 date May 11  (2014-05-11)
2015 date May 10  (2015-05-10)
2016 date May 8  (2016-05-08)
Frequency annual
Related to Father's Day, Parents' Day

Mother's Day in the United States is an annual holiday celebrated on the second Sunday in May. Mother's Day recognizes mothers, motherhood and maternal bonds in general, as well the positive contributions that they make to society. Although many Mother's Day celebrations world-wide have quite different origins and traditions, most have now been influenced by the more recent American tradition established by Anna Jarvis, who celebrated it for the first time in 1907, then campaigned to make it an official holiday. Previous attempts at establishing Mother's Day in the United States sought to promote peace by means of honoring mothers who had lost or were at risk of losing their sons to war.

Traditions on this day include churchgoing, the distribution of carnations, and family dinners.[1] The holiday has been heavily commercialized by advertisers and retailers, and has been criticized by some as a Hallmark Holiday.[2][3]

History[edit]

First attempts to establish a holiday[edit]

The first attempts to establish a "Mother's Day" in the United States came from women's peace groups.[4] A common early activity was the meeting of groups of mothers whose sons had fought or died on opposite sides of the American Civil War.

In 1868, Ann Jarvis – mother of Anna Jarvis – created a committee to establish a "Mother's Friendship Day", the purpose of which was "to reunite families that had been divided during the Civil War." Jarvis – who had previously organized "Mother's Day Work Clubs" to improve sanitation and health for both Union and Confederate encampments undergoing a typhoid outbreak – wanted to expand this into an annual memorial for mothers, but she died in 1905 before the celebration became popular.[5][6] Her daughter would continue her mother's efforts.

There were several limited observances in the 1870s and the 1880s but none achieved resonance beyond the local level.[5] At the time, Protestant schools in the United States already held many celebrations and observations such as Children's Day, Temperance Sunday, Roll Call Day, Decision Day, Missionary Day and others.[7] In New York City, Julia Ward Howe led a "Mother's Day for Peace" anti-war observance on June 2, 1872,[4][5][8][9] which was accompanied by a Mother's Day Proclamation. The observance continued in Boston for about 10 years under Howe's personal sponsorship, then died out.[10]

Several years later a Mother's Day observance on May 13, 1877 was held in Albion, Michigan over a dispute related to the temperance movement.[11] According to local legend, Albion pioneer Juliet Calhoun Blakeley stepped up to complete the sermon of the Rev. Myron Daughterty who was distraught because an anti-temperance group had forced his son and two other temperance advocates to spend the night in a saloon and become publicly drunk. From the pulpit Blakeley called on other mothers to join her. Blakeley's two sons, both traveling salesmen, were so moved that they vowed to return each year to pay tribute to her and embarked on a campaign to urge their business contacts to do likewise. At their urging, in the early 1880s, the Methodist Episcopal Church in Albion set aside the second Sunday in May to recognize the special contributions of mothers.

Frank E. Hering, President of the Fraternal Order of Eagles, made a plea for "a national day to honor our mothers" in 1904.[12][13]

Anna Jarvis never mentioned Howe or Mothering Sunday, and she never mentioned any connection to the Protestant school celebrations, always claiming that the creation of Mother's Day was hers alone.[14]

Holiday establishment[edit]

Mother's Day postcard from Northern Pacific Railway in 1915

In its present form, Mother's Day was established by Anna Jarvis with the help of Philadelphia merchant John Wanamaker following the death of her mother, Ann Jarvis, on May 9, 1905. A small service was held on May 12, 1907 in the Andrew's Methodist Episcopal Church in Grafton, West Virginia, where Anna's mother had been teaching Sunday school.[5] The first "official" service was on May 10, 1908, in the same church, accompanied by a larger ceremony in the Wanamaker Auditorium in the Wanamaker's store in Philadelphia.[5] The next year the day was reported to be widely celebrated in New York.[15]

Jarvis then campaigned to establish Mother's Day first as a U.S. national holiday and then later as an international holiday.[4][5][16] The holiday was declared officially by the state of West Virginia in 1910, and the rest of the states followed quickly.[5] On May 10, 1913, the U.S. House of Representatives passed a resolution calling on all federal government officials (from the president down) to wear a white carnation the following day in observance of Mother's Day.[17] On May 8, 1914, the U.S. Congress passed a law designating the second Sunday in May as Mother's Day and requesting a proclamation. The next day, President Woodrow Wilson issued a proclamation declaring the first national Mother's Day[18][19] as a day for American citizens to show the flag in honor of those mothers whose sons had died in war.[18] In 1934, U.S. President Franklin D. Roosevelt approved a stamp commemorating the holiday.[20]

In May 2008 the U.S. House of Representatives voted twice on a resolution commemorating Mother's Day,[21][22] the first one being unanimous (with 21 members not voting).[21] The Grafton church, where the first celebration was held, is now the International Mother's Day Shrine and is a National Historic Landmark.[23]

Carnations[edit]

Carnations have come to represent Mother's Day since Anna Jarvis delivered 500 of them at the first celebration in 1908.[5][19][23] Many religious services held later adopted the custom of giving away carnations.[5] This also started the custom of wearing a carnation on Mother's Day.[12] The founder, Anna Jarvis, chose the carnation because it was the favorite flower of her mother.[24] In part due to the shortage of white carnations, and in part due to the efforts to expand the sales of more types of flowers in Mother's Day, florists invented the idea of wearing a red carnation if your mother was living, or a white one if she was dead; this was tirelessly promoted until it made its way into the popular observations at churches.[12][25]

Commercialization[edit]

The commercialization of the American holiday began very early, and only nine years after the first official Mother's Day had become so rampant that Anna Jarvis herself became a major opponent of what the holiday had become,[26][27] spending all her inheritance and the rest of her life fighting what she saw as an abuse of the celebration.[26] She decried the practice of purchasing greeting cards, which she saw as a sign of being too lazy to write a personal letter. She was arrested in 1948 for disturbing the peace while protesting against the commercialization of Mother's Day, and she finally said that she "...wished she would have never started the day because it became so out of control ..."[27] She died later that year.

However, Mother's Day is now one of the most commercially successful American occasions, having become the most popular day of the year to dine out at a restaurant in the United States[28] and generating a significant portion of the U.S. jewelry industry's annual revenue, from custom gifts like mother's rings.[29] Americans spend approximately $2.6 billion on flowers, $1.53 billion on pampering gifts—like spa treatments—and another $68 million on greeting cards.[30]

Commercialization has ensured that the holiday has continued, when other holidays from the same time, such as Children's Day and Temperance Sunday,[31] are no longer celebrated.[32]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

Notes
  1. ^ a b J. Ellsworth Kalas (19 October 2009). Preaching the Calendar: Celebrating Holidays and Holy Days. Westminster John Knox Press. "Church attendance on this day is likely to be third only to Christmas Eve and Easter. Some worshipers still celebrate with carnations, colored if the mother is living and white if she is deceased." 
  2. ^ Brian Handwerk (11 May 2012). "Mother's Day's Dark History". National Geographic News. Retrieved 30 May 2013. 
  3. ^ Marc Powers (11 May 1996). "Mother's Day only a Hallmark holiday". Southeast Missourian. Retrieved 11 May 2013. 
  4. ^ a b c The History of Mother's Day from The Legacy Project, a Legacy Center (Canada) website
  5. ^ a b c d e f g h i Virginia Bernhard (2002). "Mother's Day". In Joseph M. Hawes, Elizabeth F. Shores. The family in America: an encyclopedia (3, illustrated ed.). ABC-CLIO. p. 714. ISBN 9781576072325. 
  6. ^ Larossa, 1997, pag 172
  7. ^ Leigh, p.252
  8. ^ Leigh, p. 252
  9. ^ The First Anniversary of 'Mother's Day'", The New York Times, June 3, 1874, p. 8: "'Mother's Day,' which was inaugurated in this city on the 2nd of June, 1872, by Mrs. Julia Ward Howards[sic], was celebrated last night at Plimpton Hall by a mother's peace meeting..."
  10. ^ Julia Ward Howe's Mother's Day for Peace, about.com
  11. ^ Mother's Day from "Albion's Historical Markers", maintained by an Albion, Michigan business
  12. ^ a b c "Annie's "Mother's Day" History Page". Retrieved 2008-06-26. 
  13. ^ "Fraternal Order of Eagles: The History of Mother's Day". Retrieved 2008-01-26. 
  14. ^ Leigh, p.253
  15. ^ "They organize no crusade in the interests of so-called 'women's rights'...", NY Times, May 10, 1909
  16. ^ "The promoters of White Carnation Day have expressed their intention to make the observance international in character...", Poverty Bay Herald, 1 June 1909
  17. ^ Express (Washington, D.C.), May 10, 2013, p. 30.
  18. ^ a b Rice, Susan Tracey and Robert Haven Schauffler (1915). Mother's day: its history, origin, celebration, spirit, and significance as related in prose and verse. pp. 3–5. "in 1914 Congress passed a law, which Wilson signed on May 8, 1914, 'designating the second Sunday in May as Mother's Day', and authorizing and requesting that Wilson issue a proclamation 'calling upon the government officials to display the United States flag on all buildings, and the people of the United States to display the flag at their homes or other suitable places on the second Sunday in May as a public expression of our love and reverence for the mothers of our country.'" 
  19. ^ a b Today in History: May 9 Library of Congress
  20. ^ William H. Young, Nancy K. Young (2007), The Great Depression in America: A Cultural Encyclopedia (illustrated ed.), Greenwood Publishing Group, p. 520, ISBN 0-313-33520-6 
  21. ^ a b House Vote #274 (May 7, 2008) H. Res. 1113: Celebrating the role of mothers in the United States and supporting the goals and ideals of Mother's Day (Vote On Passage)
  22. ^ House Vote #275 (May 7, 2008) Table Motion to Reconsider: H RES 1113 Celebrating the role of mothers in the United States and supporting the goals and ideals of Mother’s Day
  23. ^ a b Andrews Methodist Episcopal Church, National Historic Landmarks program, National Park Service 
  24. ^ Leigh, 1997, pag. 260
  25. ^ Leigh, 1997, pag. 274
  26. ^ a b Louisa Taylor, Canwest News Service (2008-05-11). "Mother's Day creator likely 'spinning in her grave'". Vancouver Sun. Retrieved 2008-07-07. 
  27. ^ a b "Mother's Day reaches 100th anniversary, The woman who lobbied for this day would berate you for buying a card". MSNBC. Associated Press. 2008-05-11. Retrieved 2008-07-07. 
  28. ^ Press releases:
  29. ^ Barnett Helzberg (2003). John Wiley and Sons, ed. What I Learned Before I Sold to Warren Buffett. p. 80. ISBN 0-471-44539-8. 
  30. ^ Recession or not: Mom comes 1st (phillyBurbs.com) | Local Business
  31. ^ The New York Times, November 17, 1888, Temperance Sunday's programme
  32. ^ Leigh, page 256 "... it might even have gradually withered away like other Protestant days of the early twentieth century such as Children's Day or Temperance Sunday."
Bibliography

External links[edit]