The idea had been first promoted by a Philadelphia woman, Anna Jarvis, in 1908. Springfield took its first, unofficial steps toward observance of Mother’s Day in 1909, when the Illinois State Register took up the cause on its editorial pages.
The day originally was mainly religious in orientation. Clergy were encouraged to base their sermons that Sunday on motherhood and reverence for mothers. In its weekly advance story about church services on May 9, 1909, the Register said:
Mother’s day will be generally observed in the protestant churches of the city to-day, and in many of these special programmes have been arranged of a religious and musical character. White flowers and white ribbons will be worn as a tribute to the mothers of this land, and will be a reminder of one day fresh in the minds of the people of Springfield when one day during the Sunday revivals was set apart at the request of the evangelist for the observance of Mother’s day. (The “revival” and “evangelist” comments were in reference to Billy Sunday’s recently concluded six-week-long Springfield revival series; Sunday held special Mother’s Day services on April 1, 1909 – ed.)
During its first few years, aside from church services, people mainly observed Mother’s Day by wearing flowers – white ones if their mothers had already passed on. However, commercialization creeped in quickly.
J.F. Hartwell’s (“Springfield’s Finest Jewelry Establishment”) was already advertising Mother’s Day cards by 1916, and Myers Brothers ads in 1928 promised the store had hundreds of gift ideas for Mom.
It’s not clear exactly when Mother’s Day became one of the biggest restaurant days of the year, but one of the earliest references in Springfield newspapers was on Mother’s Day 1944, in the middle of World War II. It was National Restaurant Week, and menus offered a special treat that year, the Illinois State Journal said.
Customers of Springfield restaurants will have a greater variety of selections from the menu, due to the removal of a number of meat items from point rationing. Diners will be able to select meat from the menus seven days during National Restaurant week and thereafter until such times as shortages in meat products may occur again or until the point value increases to the extent that it is impossible for restaurants to serve meat every day. Special menus will be arranged in restaurants on Mother’s’ day, May 14.
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