The Story of Mother’s Day

Diamond Mike Watson 
Anna Marie Jarvis (May 1, 1864 – Nov 24, 1948)
Anna Marie Jarvis (May 1, 1864 – Nov 24, 1948)

In 1914, President Woodrow Wilson announced that the second Sunday in May would be the holiday we now call Mother’s Day. Although our mothers have been celebrated in many ancient cultures, they have only been nationally recognized for one hundred years.

The hero of this American story is Anna Marie Jarvis, the Mother of Mother’s Day.

Anna Marie was born in the tiny town of Webster, West Virginia in 1864. She spent her childhood living in Grafton, West Virginia. Her mother was Anna Reeves Jarvis. She always remembered her own mother’s dream of establishing a day to honor all mothers. When Anna Reeves died in 1905, Anna Marie began a mission to create a day in which we could honor the woman who brings us into the world and instructs our footsteps in life.

In 1907 Anna Marie gave a white carnation to each mother in the congregation of her mother’s church at St. Andrew’s Methodist in Grafton, West Virginia. On May 10, 1908, she held a memorial service in honor of her mother at the church. The bell rang seventy-two times for each year of her mother’s life. Anna Marie also wanted children to spend time writing a note of appreciation to their mothers, and during the following years, she began a quest that would change the way we now celebrate this day.  After much public speaking and mailing hundreds of letters to people of power, Anna finally established what we call Mother’s Day.

In the early 1920s, “greeting card” companies began selling Mother’s Day cards. Jarvis detested this because her intention was for children to compose words from their hearts. Florists marketed carnations, which infuriated Anna Marie so much that she was once arrested for protesting at a Mother’s Day carnation sale.

It is ironic to note that although Anna Marie worked almost a decade trying to establish the holiday, she spent the rest of her life trying to end Mother’s Day, and invested her family’s inheritance campaigning against what the holiday had become. Her intention was reform, not revenue. Her New York Times obituary said she became embittered because too many people sent their mothers a printed greeting card. 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.” -Anna Jarvis.

To preserve the spirit of celebrating mothers, the Why Mom Deserves a Diamond® contest was established in 1993 by Diamond Mike Watson in honor of his adoptive mother and the birthmother he had never known. Today the contest is in honor of all moms. Although diamonds and gemstones are the tangible prize of the contest, the original words of love are the greatest prize. Diamond Mike’s company, Gallery of Diamonds jewelers (now in Santa Ana, California), has archived over 92,000 original poems of appreciation from kids of the United States. These poems are freely accessible to all moms whose child has been declared a winner.

More information on Mother’s Day and the Why Mom Deserves a Diamond® contest can be found at

Anna Jarvis: Mother of Modern Mother’s Day. Josh Mapes May 12, 2012.
Story of Anna Jarvis.
Anna Jarvis: Mother of Modern Mother’s Day.  Josh Mapes May 12, 2012.

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