Mother’s Day History

Yesterday was “Mother’s Day”. It is a time we set apart to recognize the importance of mothers in our lives. My message Sunday was borne out of a burden I have carried for years for my own inability to understand the special needs of my own mother. God willing, I am better prepared for my own wife and mother today. Here is a short history of where the celebration came from. I think it might surprise you:
Early “Mother’s Day” in the U.S. was mostly marked by women’s peace groups. A common early activity was the meeting of groups of mothers whose sons had fought or died on opposite sides of the Civil War. There were several local celebrations in the 1870s and the 1880s, but none achieved resonance beyond the local level. In 1868 Ann Jarvis created a committee to establish a “Mother’s Friendship Day” whose purpose was “to reunite families that had been divided during the Civil War”, and she wanted to expand it into an annual memorial for mothers, but she died in 1905 before the celebration became popular. In its present form, Mother’s Day was established by Anna Marie Jarvis, following the death of her mother Ann Jarvis on May 9, 1905, with the help of a Philadelphia merchant called John Wanamaker. A small service was held in 12 May 1907 in the Andrew’s Methodist Episcopal Church in Grafton, West Virginia, where Anna’s mother had been teaching Sunday school.
The holiday was declared officially by the state of West Virginia in 1910, and the rest of states followed quickly. 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. On May 9, 1914, President Woodrow Wilson issued a proclamation, declaring the first national Mother’s Day, as a day for American citizens to show the flag in honor of those mothers whose sons had died in war.
Carnations have come to represent Mother’s Day, since Anna Jarvis delivered 500 of them at its first celebration in 1908. Many religious services held later copied the custom of giving away carnations. This also started the custom of wearing a carnation on Mother’s Day. The founder, Anna Jarvis, chose the carnation because it was the favorite flower of her mother. 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, the florists promoted 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…..
Now I have had two mothers in specific that have blessed me; my own mother who gave me life and the mother of my children who continues to bless my life. Yet uniquely I have been blessed in particular by many other mothers that God has given me over the years: I Timothy 5:1-2 ‘Rebuke not an elder, but intreat him as a father; and the younger men as brethren; The elder women as mothers; the younger as sisters, with all purity.’
I thank God for the godly women He has put in my life. I hope your Mother’s Day was a blessing!


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