Today Dominica is part of a worldwide celebration of Mother’s day which honours mothers and the vocation of motherhood.
It is celebrated on the second Sunday of May in many countries around the world.
The first Mother’s day was celebrated in 1908 when American native Anna Jarvis held a memorial celebration for her mother Ann Maria Reeves Jarvis after her death.
Anna’s mother, Ann Jarvis, had founded Mothers’ Day Work Clubs in five cities to improve sanitary and health conditions. The Mothers’ Day Work Clubs also treated wounds, fed, and clothed both Union and Confederate soldiers with neutrality.
Anna embarked on a mission to make Mother’s day a recognised holiday in the United States.
In 1912, Anna Jarvis trademarked the phrases “second Sunday in May” and “Mother’s Day”, and created the Mother’s Day International Association. She was very specific about the location of the apostrophe; it was to be a singular possessive, for each family to honour their mother, not a plural possessive commemorating all mothers in the world.
By the 1920’s the holiday had become commercialized which was a great disappointment to Anna.
She and her sister Ellsinore spent their family inheritance campaigning against what the holiday had become. Both died in poverty.
According to her New York Times obituary, Jarvis became embittered because too many people sent their mothers a printed greeting card.
As she said, “A printed card means nothing except that you are too lazy to write to the woman who has done more for you than anyone in the world. And candy! You take a box to Mother—and then eat most of it yourself. A pretty sentiment.”
Click below for more on Anna Jarvis’ efforts to establish and gain recognition for Mother’s Day.