The celebration dates back to the late 1800s and is a combination of several different events. But it was Anna Maria Reeves Jarvis, a social activist and community organizer, who unintentionally got the ball rolling.

A founder of women’s clubs that helped mothers care for their children, Jarvis also organized Mothers’ Friendship Day in 1868, an event intended to bring mothers of Confederate and Union soldiers together in harmony after the Civil War.

From there, suffragette Julia Ward Howe wrote what’s called the Mother’s Day Proclamation two years later in 1870, in an effort to promote world peace and pushed for a Mother’s Peace Day to be celebrated in June. 

It was around that time that the idea for some kind of day to honor mothers took hold, but it didn’t catch on for at least another 35 years.

Upon Jarvis’ death in 1905, her daughter, Anna, began a letter-writing campaign, calling for a Mother’s Day to honor not only her mother’s work, but for all mothers and the sacrifices they make on behalf of their children.

When her mother died on May 23, 1905, Anna Jarvis worked tirelessly to have the second Sunday in May set aside each year as a day of honor all moms

It was her tireless advocacy for the holiday that led President Woodrow Wilson to sign a proclamation in 1914, officially declaring the second Sunday in May as Mother’s Day.

But here’s where things get interesting. All those cards, carnations and candy you buy for mom today? Jarvis was having none of it. She wanted moms celebrated, not commercialized. And in the 1920s, she slammed the modern incarnation of the holiday as a materialistic free-for-all.HAPPY MOTHERS DAY TO ALL MOMS