This Sunday is Mother’s Day. Chicago first celebrated the holiday 103 years ago Wednesday–May 9, 1909.
The American version of Mother’s Day was started by Anna Marie Jarvis, after the death of her own mother in 1905. To honor all mothers, Jarvis asked people to wear white carnations on the second Sunday in May. The first observances were held in Grafton, West Virginia, where her late mother had lived.
By 1908 Mother’s Day was being celebrated in Philadelphia, San Francisco and a few other places. Meanwhile, Jarvis worked to spread the holiday. She sent pamphlets to women’s clubs in various cities, asking for help.
In Chicago, the Mother’s Day cause was taken up by Sarah Warrell. On May 4, 1909, the Tribune ran a short interview in which she described the holiday.
Warrell called on ministers, teachers, and charitable institutions to get out the word. Wearing the white carnation was the first step. Then people should use the holiday for positive action, to help the aged, the sick, and the needy.
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