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The history of Mother's Day

Rick Koole

LifePointe Church

Anna Reeves Jarvis is credited by most with founding Mother’s Day. After her mother Ann died May 9, 1905, Jarvis set out to establish a day that would honor her mom and others in America.

She began the movement in West Virginia, which hosted the first official Mother’s Day celebration three years later at Andrews Methodist Episcopal Church. In 1914, President Woodrow Wilson signed a bill officially recognizing Jarvis’ idea as a national holiday to be celebrated each second Sunday in May.

The white carnation became the official flower of Mother’s Day shortly after Jarvis’ own mother died. She compared that flower’s shape and life cycle to a mother’s love. She observed in a 1927 interview, “The carnation does not drop its petals, but hugs them to its heart as it dies, and so too, mothers hug their children to their hearts, their mother’s love never dying.”

The Bible speaks often of a mother’s love. In one passage it exalts mothers by proclaiming, “She is clothed with strength and dignity; she can laugh at the days to come. She speaks with wisdom, and faithful instruction is on her tongue. She watches over the affairs of her household and does not eat the bread of idleness. Her children arise and call her blessed; her husband also, and he praises her. Many women do noble things, but you surpass them all,” in Proverbs 31:25-29.

Many well-known people in the United States have reflected on the impact their mothers had in their lives. Following is just a sampling of what various leaders have said or written about their mothers.

“I remember my mother’s prayers and they have always followed me. They have clung to me all my life,” by Abraham Lincoln.

“My mother was the most beautiful woman I ever saw. All I am I owe to my mother. I attribute my success in life to the moral, intellectual and physical education I received from her,” by George Washington.

“If I have done anything in life worth attention, I feel sure that I inherited the disposition from my mother,” by Booker T. Washington.

“Youth fades; love droops; the leaves of friendship fall; A mother’s secret hope outlives them all,” by Oliver Wendell Holmes.

“Love as powerful as your mother's love for you leaves its own mark—to have been loved so deeply – will give us some protection forever, by J.K. Rowling.

“There ought to be a hall of fame for mamas / Creation’s most unique and precious pearl / And heaven help us always to remember / That the hand that rocks the cradle rules the world,” by Glen Campbell.

“A mother is the truest friend we have, when trials heavy and sudden fall upon us; when adversity takes the place of prosperity; when friends desert us; when trouble thickens around us, still will she cling to us, and endeavor by her kind precepts and counsels to dissipate the clouds of darkness, and cause peace to return to our hearts,” by Washington Irving.

“Mama was my greatest teacher, a teacher of compassion, love and fearlessness. If love is sweet as a flower, then my mother is that sweet flower of love,” by Stevie Wonder.

Mother’s Day is fast approaching. For many people, our mothers have already died, and we miss them dearly. For those of you who still have her, find a way this Mother’s Day to share with her how much she means to you and how she has helped shape you into the person you are today.


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