We have her to thank. She’s Julia Ward Howe — and in 1872 she was all up in Boston’s face trying to promote peace, so she called for A Meeting of Mothers. Of course Julia Ward Howe wrote The Battle Hymn of the Republic and this we know about Julia Ward Howe: she was not a subtle broad:
Mine eyes have seen the glory of the coming of the Lord
He is trampling out the vintage where the grapes of wrath are stored
He hath loosed the fateful lightning of His terrible swift sword
His truth is marching on.
Next we jump to Michigan. On May 11, 1877 three guys were roaming the streets of a town called Albion and they were totally wasted. Because — get real — it’s Albion and it’s 1877. What else is a brother gonna do in Albion in 1877?
But this made the town madder than a wet hen because all three of the boys were sons of strict temperance advocates. Also? One of the boys was the pastor’s son.
The very next Sunday the pastor was so upset about his son that he left the pulpit before the services were over. This is where we meet a certain Juliet Calhoun Blakeley:
Juliet Calhoun Blakeley was sitting in the front row that day and she gladly pointed her sassy Victorian lace-up boots in the direction of the pulpit and took over the sermon, calling on other mothers to join her.
In other words this whole Mother’s Day deal was originally an anti-drinking campaign.
Then for years after, Mrs. Blakeley’s super perfect wouldn’t-be-caught-dead-drinking-in-the-streets-of-Albion sons decided to honor their mother — and all mothers — with a churchy celebration held the second Sunday in May. In Albion. Albion Michigan, which only had like sixty-five residents, three of them drunkards.
So how did Mother’s Day grow from that to this?
As always we get to blame Philadelphia. Because this is one of its turn-of-the-century residents, Anna Jarvis:
Anna Jarvis launched an intense campaign in 1908 to honor the memory of her own mother by creating a national day dedicated to all mothers. She called on local clergymen, business leaders, and department store owner John Wanamaker – who offered the use of his store for the first Mother’s Day service, attended by 15,000 people.
The final element of the equation stepped off a train in Kansas City two years later holding two shoeboxes containing postcards.
And that chucklehead was J.C. Hall, the 18-year old founder of Hallmark.