Symbol of Mother's Day

The Carnation

On the occasion of the first official Mothers Day service on May 10, 1908, Miss Anna Jarvis sent 500 white carnations, chosen by herself, to the Andrews Methodist Episcopal Church, in Grafton, West Virginia. In a telegram to the congregation, Miss Jarvis stated that:

"...Each one present will be given a white carnation; mothers will be given two, in memory of the day.

Photograph - white carnationThese five hundred carnations are given by a loyal, loving daughter in honor and sacred memory of her good and faithful mother, Mrs. Ann M. Jarvis, who worked faithfully and earnestly for twenty long years, as an earnest teacher in our Sunday School, who only a few years ago departed to that better world to reap the reward of her labors here.

Every one is asked to wear this flower.

The white carnation is preferred because it may be thought to typify some of the virtues of motherhood; ... whiteness stands for purity; its lasting qualities, faithfulness; its fragrance, love; its wide field of growth, charity; its form, beauty..."

The following year she sent 700 carnations for the same purpose, and over the years, sent over 10,000 carnations as personal gifts to the Andrews Church. Carnations--red for living and white for deceased--are now worn world-wide as emblems of the purity, strength and endurance of motherhood.