Family Life

History of Mother’s Day

Ever since my mother passed, I really don’t feel like celebrating Mother’s Day much. I know I have to continue on with each day of my life, as she would have wanted me to, but it doesn’t make it any easier. With me not wanting to celebrate the day, I decided to find another way to approach it and see if there was another way to still honor my mother. So, I researched who started it and why, and I learned a lot.

Did you know that Mother’s Day is not what it was originally intended for, and the woman who started Mother’s Day died trying to have the day canceled? She stated that it became too commercialized and lost its true meaning and purpose.

Here is a little history lesson. In 1858, Ann Reeves Jarvis organized Mothers’ Day Work Clubs to improve sanitary conditions to help infant mortality rates. During her life, she had 13 children, and only 4 lived to adulthood. In 1868, in the wake of the Civil War, she coordinated a Mothers’ Friendship Day in West Virginia to bring former foes on the battlefield back together again. Ann Reeves died in 1905, and her daughter Anna Reeves wanted a day to honor her mother. So, in 1907, on the second Sunday of May, she held a small service to honor her deceased mother. She continued this each year, and in 1914, President Woodrow Wilson made it an official national holiday. After this, Anna believed she had created a monster because businesses were starting to commercialize this day, and she spent the remainder of her life fighting for the day to be abolished. At the age of 80, she was put in a mental asylum and died 4 years later–alone, with no money and no children. She didn’t get to see how the day–while still slightly commercialized at times–has returned to the root of its purpose, to honor all that mothers do every day.

Mother’s Day is what Anna intended it to be all those years ago. It’s a day to honor our mother, whether she is still with us or not. It’s a day to celebrate her and everything she has done for her family. I wish Anna would have been able to see all the good that she did, and that Mother’s Day is a day that is more than flowers, cards, or candy. This year, I am taking what I have learned from Anna’s story and focusing on the true meaning of the day. I’ll sit and remember the incredible times I had with my mother and all that she did, look at photos of the times we shared together, and simply relax with my family.

Happy Mother’s Day!

This article was originally published in May 2024.

Newsletter Signup

Your Weekly guide to Baton Rouge family fun. BR Parents has a newsletter for every parent. Sign Up