Tag Archives: Anna Jarvis

The Origins of the Two Mother’s Days

Before becoming the commercial holiday it is now, the Mother’s Day we celebrate on the second Sunday in May was originally about other issues, such as battlefield hospital sanitation and world peace. As Mother’s Day on the Net says in “The History (AKA Her-Story) of Mother’s Day”:

“In the United States, Mother’s Day experienced a series of false starts before eventually transitioning into the “Hallmark” holiday that we celebrate today. In 1858, Anna Reeves Jarvis was the first woman to hold an official celebration of mothers, when in her home state of West Virginia, she instituted Mothers’ Work Day to raise awareness about local sanitation issues. During the Civil War, she expanded the scope of Mothers’ Work Day to include sanitary conditions on both sides of the battlefield.”

In 1870, “Battle Hymn of the Republic” author Julia Ward Howe, appalled at the bloodshed of the American Civil War, proposed making it a Mother’s Day for Peace, as “Julia Ward Howe: Beyond the Battle Hymn of the Republic” at About.com states:

“In 1870, Julia Ward Howe took on a new issue and a new cause. Distressed by her experience of the realities of war, determined that peace was one of the two most important causes of the world (the other being equality in its many forms) and seeing war arise again in the world in the Franco-Prussian War, she called in 1870 for women to rise up and oppose war in all its forms. She wanted women to come together across national lines, to recognize what we hold in common above what divides us, and commit to finding peaceful resolutions to conflicts. She issued a Declaration, hoping to gather together women in a congress of action.”

Not surprisingly, a world Mother’s Day for Peace never received the support of the politicians that the later commercialized version would. From the About.com article:

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