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Mother’s Day is Sunday, May 12. Here’s how it came to be:

Ann Maria Reeves Jarvis of West Virginia was a social activist and community organizer during the Civil War. Before the war broke out, she started Mother’s Day Work Clubs to teach childcare to young women. During and after the Civil War, the clubs helped unify divided families. Jarvis organized a Mothers’ Friendship Day in 1868 that gathered moms from both sides of the fight with soldiers from each army to promote reconciliation.

In 1870, Julia Ward Howe, a suffragette and abolitionist, wrote the “Mother’s Day Proclamation” calling on women to unite in support of world peace.  

The official Mother’s Day holiday in the United States was not recognized until the early 1900s, after years of effort from Anna Jarvis, the daughter of Ann Reeves Jarvis. Anna never married or had children. She began work to establish a day to honor moms for their sacrifices after her activist mother died in 1905. The first official celebrations were held in Grafton, West Virginia, and Philadelphia in May 1908. 

In 1912, Anna Jarvis founded the Mother’s Day International Association. President Woodrow Wilson officially established Mother’s Day as the second Sunday in May on May 9, 1914. 

Ironically, years later, Anna Jarvis tried to have the holiday removed from the national calendar. She said it had become too commercial. 

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