The Origin of Mother's Day

    The story of Anna Jarvis is fairly well known. Her campaign for an annual Sunday to honor mothers began the year she lost her own mother, 1905. During the Civil War Miss Jarvis' mom worked in military hospitals taking care of wounded soldiers, North and South alike. Her concern for better medical care continued well after the war. It was her mother’s zeal and selfless service that Anna Jarvis was intent on honoring.
    Her efforts met with success on a local level when her local denomination set aside a Sunday in May 1908 to honor her own mother. Nationally, however, would prove a more difficult prospect. In that same year Congress rejected the idea of a national Mother's Day. Just two years later Jarvis' home state of West Virginia recognized Mother's Day as a state holiday with other states to follow their example. By 1911 all of the states observed Mother's Day. President Woodrow Wilson, in 1914, signed a proclamation designating the second Sunday in May as a national holiday honoring mothers.
    The idea of honoring mothers (and fathers) was of course of divine origin. It was the fifth of the Ten Commandments, "Honor your father and your mother, that your days may be long upon the land which the Lord your God is giving you" (Exo. 20:12). This is a theme often reinforced in the Old Testament (cf. Prov. 10:1; 31:10-31) and is included in the teaching of the Apostle Paul (cf. Eph. 6:1–2).
    We are indebted to Anna Jarvis for her tireless efforts to honor mothers. But isn’t it wonderful that our God honors those who honor mothers?


David Bragg

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