Interesting Facts About Anna Jarvis: “Mother of Mother’s Day”

The story of Mothers Day is the story of firm determination of a daughter, Anna Jarvis who resolved to pay tribute to her mother, Mrs. Anna M Jarvis and all other mothers of the world. Anna Jarvis dedicated her life to fulfill her mothers dream of the recognition of day for honoring mothers. Though never a mother herself, Founder of Mother’s Day, Anna Jarvis is today recognized as the ‘Mother of Mothers Day’. An apt title to define the remarkable woman’s ceaseless devotion to her mother and motherhood in general.
Anna Marie Jarvis (May 1, 1864 – November 24, 1948) was the founder of the Mother’s Day holiday in the United States. Anna Marie Jarvis was born to Granville E. and Ann Maria (née Reeves) Jarvis on May 1, 1864, in Webster, Taylor County, West Virginia, the ninth of eleven children. Seven of her siblings would die in infancy or early childhood. Her birthplace, today known as the Anna Jarvis House, has been listed on the National Register of Historic Places since 1979. The family moved to Grafton, West Virginia, also in Taylor County, later in her childhood.
Ann Reeves Jarvis was a social activist, founder of Mothers’ Day Work Clubs. Ann was friends with Julia Ward Howe, who had first advocated in 1870 for the idea of a Mother’s Day as a call for mothers throughout the world to work together for peace. As a woman defined by her faith, she was very active within the Andrews Methodist Episcopal Church community. It was during one of her Sunday school lessons in 1876 that her daughter, Anna Jarvis, allegedly found her inspiration for Mother’s Day, as Ann closed her lesson with a prayer.
The Mother’s Day movement was not considered in any way against the women’s reform movements, although it became established during the Progressive Era (1900-1920). Instead, it was a celebration of the importance of women and their work inside the home, as mothers. Activists, like Miss Jarvis, stepped outside the typical home sphere of the time, but neither rejected the role of homemaker nor discredited it. Instead, their involvement as activists brought the role of mothers and homemakers into the public view — giving it positive publicity, recognition, and public respect.
Let’s now look at FIVE interesting facts you probably didn’t know about Anna Jarvis. Enjoy!
1. Ann Jarvis started the tradition of wearing a carnation on Mother’s Day. A colored carnation means that a person’s mother is living. A white carnation indicates that a person’s mother is dead.
2. It is poignant to note that though Miss Anna Jarvis devoted her life to the establishment of national Mothers Day, but, in the end, she was disappointed at the way thing turned out. She was concerned with reform, not revenue. She hated the commercialization of the day, so much so that she felt sorry for ever starting the tradition of celebrating Mothers Day.
3. Anna Jarvis, along with her mother, of course, is a hero because of her determination, perseverance, and resilience towards her causes and beliefs. She is also a hero because of her devotion, love, and loyalty as a daughter as well as her dedication a sibling, having spent much of her last years caring for her invalid sister. Although ironically Miss Jarvis never had children herself, and thus, was not an “official” mother, she is considered the “Mother of Mother’s Day,” a title as grand as her beautiful cause and her ceaseless devotion. She passed away on November 24, 1948, at the age of 84. The bells at St. Andrew’s Church in Grafton tolled 84 times in honor of her.
4. In 1865, after the Civil War, Anna Jarvis organized a Mothers’ Friendship Day at Pruntytown Courthouse. This was done to bring together soldiers and neighbors of all political beliefs. The event was a big success and came to be organized annually for several years to promote peace and friendship.
5. She formed a committee, and in 1910, West Virginia became the first state to adopt the holiday. Soon, Jarvis began to raise awareness and support, and in 1914, President Wilson declared the second Sunday in May “Mother’s Day.”

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