Jarvis’s mother, Anna Maria Reeves Jarvis, was an activist during the Civil War and lost 8 of her 12 children before they reached adulthood. When she died in 1905, Anna (daughter) was distraught and vowed to devote her life to honoring her mother. Her devotion led her to strive to appoint an official U.S. holiday to recognize mothers. Though Mother’s Day had been celebrated informally for many years, Jarvis wrote many important figures (including U.S. congressmen and prosperous businessmen), imploring them to back Mother’s Day as an official holiday.
Anna’s efforts finally paid off. In 1910, the governor of West Virginia declared Mother's Day a state holiday on the second Sunday in May. The following year, every other state followed suit. By 1914, President Woodrow Wilson signed a bill declaring Mother’s Day a Federal Holiday.
At first, celebrations of Mother's Day were relatively private, where children would accompany their mothers to the churches where their baptisms were held. Gradually though, Mother's Day has flourished into a significant and memorable occasion where many people express their love for their mothers through thoughtful gifts and quality time with family.