Farmers Almanac
The Farmers Almanac
Now Shipping!
The 2019 Almanac! Order Today

How Did Mother’s Day Become A Holiday?

Share on Facebook Share on Twitter Share on Pinterest Share on LinkedIn Subscribe by Email Print This Post
How Did Mother’s Day Become A Holiday?

When is Mother’s Day 2019?

Mother’s Day is always the second Sunday in May. In 2019, it’s Sunday, May 12th.

2020: Sunday, May 10
2021:  Sunday, May 9

The Interesting History of Mother’s Day

Mother’s Day is a special day in which we honor mothers each year. It’s a wonderful occasion to shower mom with flowers, goodies, brunch—all things to let her know how much she is appreciated.  But how did the “holiday” originate?

The origin of Mother’s Day has been associated with Miss Anna M. Jarvis. Jarvis (b. May 1, 1864 – Nov. 24, 1948), an especially devoted daughter who was concerned about the neglect shown to mothers by grown children.

(Continued Below)

mother's day - photo of Anna Jarvis who started the holiday

Anna M. Jarvis started Mother’s Day; via Wikimedia Commons – Olairian [Public domain]

After her own mother’s death in 1905, Jarvis grieved. The following year, she asked friends to come to her church in Grafton, West Virginia, on the first Sunday in May to commemorate the anniversary of her mother’s death. In 1907, Jarvis promoted a Mother’s Day service at the church, and she donated carnations (her mother’s favorite flower) to every mother in the congregation.

Anna Jarvis worked hard to promote the holiday, writing letters to churches, politicians, and city leaders. She had enlisted the help of John Wanamaker (the pioneer of marketing and advertising) and Henry J. Heinz (of Heinz Ketchup fame) to help her start a movement, and it worked.  Jarvis’ efforts resulted in a resolution ultimately being passed in Congress, dedicating the second Sunday in May as Mother’s Day. By 1911, all of the states in the union had Mother’s Day proclamations. And she was very clear that the holiday was to be called “Mother’s” Day (singular) —”to honor the best mother who ever lived—yours.”

In 1915, President Woodrow Wilson declared Mother’s Day an annual national observance.

Too Commercial?

Unfortunately, as time went on, Anna M. Jarvis was soured to the Mother’s Day holiday, saying it had gotten too commercial. So much so, that by 1920, she started convincing people to stop buying flowers and other gifts for mothers, even going head-to-head with the floral industry and other industries who helped her initially fight for the holiday. Her ideal gift to mothers, she thought, was to write a heartfelt letter. “Any mother would rather have a line of the worst scribble from her son or daughter than any fancy greeting card,” she said. She came to loathe the holiday until her dying day in 1948, but her holiday lives on.

Soulflower Cards


Price: $34.50

Inspired by nature! Each of the 44 cards in every deck of Soulflower Cards features original artwork and includes a spiritual, uplifting message to help deepen your level of self-awareness and appreciation for the natural world. Read cards aloud and be inspired by each flower and its teachings. A wonderful way to connect to nature, and a great gift for Mom for Mother's Day!

Shop Now »

Articles you might also like...

3 comments

1 Lucinda J Dustin { 05.01.19 at 3:51 pm }

Since my mother is my best friend I guess every day I speak to her or share stories, email is mother’s day. I am grateful someone started Mother’s Day and that it is now noted. Too bad it isn’t a national holiday. It isn’t less important than Christmas or Thanksgiving or New Year’s. Without Mother there would not be those other holidays.

2 Tyks, Marietta { 05.01.19 at 7:38 am }

Frank E Hering made the first public plea for Mother’s Day in 1904 on the steps of the old opera house in Indianapolis, Indiana. Anna Jarvis as in your story started hers in her church in 1907. My Masters Thesis was on Mother’s Day and Frank Hering’s other accomplishments. The book is at the University of Notre Dame.

3 Cathy { 05.14.16 at 10:36 pm }

Such a nice story as I’ve always wondered why it became a holiday. I was born on Mother’s Day!! ☺️

Leave a Comment

Note: Comments that further the discussion of the above content are likely to be approved. Those comments that are vague or are simply submitted in order to promote a product, service or web site, although not necessarily considered "spam," are generally not approved.

If you notice a hole in the upper left-hand corner of your Farmers' Almanac, don't return it to the store! That hole isn't a defect; it's a part of history. Starting with the first edition of the Farmers' Almanac in 1818, readers used to nail holes into the corners to hang it up in their homes, barns, and outhouses (to provide both reading material and toilet paper). In 1919, the Almanac's publishers began pre-drilling holes in the corners to make it even easier for readers to keep all of that invaluable information (and paper) handy.

Spring Is Here – Sign Up Today!

The Farmers' Almanac is a gardener's best friend. Get 365 days of access to our online weather and gardening calendars + a copy of the 2017 Almanac
for only $13.99 $11.99!

Subscribe Today »