The first Mother’s Day, a 100 year tradition

In the Spring 1908, three years after the death of her Mother Ann Jarvis, Anna Jarvis celebrated the first public Mother’s Day memorial. This open celebration of her Mother’s life and works was held at Andrews Methodist Church in Grafton West Virginia, where Anna’s Mother had worked for twenty years as a Sunday School teacher.

The celebration and memorial was inspired the previous year at a private memorial when Anna had invited friends to her home to celebrate her Mother’s life. During that occasion Anna announced her intentions to create a national celebration day commemorating all Mothers.

Anna established the white carnation as the symbol of the celebration and developed other text and visual tools in honor of the event. It was Anna who coined the term, “Mother’s Day Association”, used during the period she was developing her concept of what Mother’s Day should be.

Since 1908, a celebration for mothers has taken place at the Andrews Methodist Church, now known as the International Mother’s Day Shrine, in the town of Grafton, West Virginia. This historic building has been designated a national historic Landmark and is the focal point in the town’s preparation for a centennial celebration of the first Mother’s Day in May, 2008.

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