I sorta see her point and agree about the commercialization.
Anna Jarvis: The Woman Who Invented Mother's Day (and Grew to Hate It)
Anna Jarvis (Photo: AP)
Day might be a time to shower your mom with cards and gifts, but the
woman responsible for the holiday would tell you not to bother. That’s
because the late Anna Jarvis,
who founded Mother’s Day (unofficially on May 10, 1906) to honor her
own mother, grew to despise the day for its sappy commercialization.
“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,” Jarvis famously told
greeting card and candy executives. “And candy! You take a box to
Mother — and then eat most of it yourself. A petty sentiment.”
Mother’s Day, which, on May 11, will celebrate its 100th anniversary,
didn’t begin with boxes of chocolate and prewritten greeting cards, but
rather as a memorial for someone's mother.
In 1906, one year after the death of Jarvis’s mother, well-known public health activist Ann Maria Reeves Jarvis,
her daughter commemorated her death by throwing an honorary service at
her home for her closest friends. Over the following two years, Jarvis
continued holding memorial services for her mother on the anniversary of
her death, even hosting an event at Philadelphia department store John Wanamakers
(now operated by Macy's) in 1908, which 1,500 people attended. That
same year, in Virginia, where the elder Jarvis had lived for most of her
life, her church held a memorial service in her honor and distributed
500 white carnations (her favorite flower) to attendees.
Anna Jarvis began to grow adamant that people set aside one day a
year to honor mothers around the country, and she began campaigning on a
local and state level to enact her idea into law. “Anna chose the
second Sunday in May, because it was the closest day to her mother’s May
10th death and she also liked the idea of Sunday being a holy day,” Katharine Lane Antolini,
PhD, a historian at West Virginia Wesleyan College, tells Yahoo Shine.
“She called magazine and newspaper editors, governors — anyone who would
help spread the word.” In 1912, Jarvis even quit her job at an
advertising agency and founded the Mother’s Day International
Association, an organization she ran out of her home with the goal of
making Mother's Day a national holiday.
1914, her efforts paid off. Mother’s Day was celebrated in every U.S.
state, and President Woodrow Wilson declared the day an official (but
not federal) holiday. It was a pretty impressive campaign in the days
before social media.
Jarvis was thrilled and wrote to Wilson to thank him, saying that the
day would be “a great Home Day of our country for sons and daughters to
honor their mothers and fathers and homes in a way that will perpetuate
family ties and give emphasis to true home life.”
didn’t pan out that way. Greeting card and candy companies began using
Mother’s Day in their advertising campaigns. White carnations — her
mother’s favorite flower — were soon adopted as the holiday’s symbol,
and charities used the holiday as part of their fundraising slogans.
Naturally, this didn’t sit well with Jarvis. “She felt that Mother’s Day
should be celebrated by staying home with one’s mom and thanking her
for everything she does; if anyone couldn’t make it home, a short,
simple letter would suffice,” says Antolini. “She especially disagreed
with charities using the day to their advantage, since Anna didn’t want
mothers — not even the poorest — to be pitied.”
In an attempt to
regain control over the holiday, Jarvis began organizing boycotts,
staging demonstrations, and threatening companies with lawsuits over
intellectual property theft. Eventually, Jarvis grew to despise the
holiday she so lovingly created and rebelled against it.
example, while once dining at the Tea Room at Wanamakers in
Philadelphia, the store that originally helped generate publicity for
the holiday, Jarvis spotted a “Mother’s Day salad”
on the menu. She ordered it, and when it arrived, she stood up, dumped
it on the floor, left money on the table, and stormed out. In 1923,
Jarvis crashed a candy confectioner’s conference, staging a protest, and
two years later, she ambushed a convention hosted by the American War Mothers (a
patriotic group that supports veterans) because it used "Mother’s Day"
as part of its fundraising efforts. She was arrested on charges of
disturbing the peace. Jarvis also routinely railed against Eleanor
Roosevelt, who supported certain charities that Jarvis believed
capitalized on her holiday. And she compared Frances Perkins,
the first female secretary of labor, to Mussolini after discovering
that Perkins supported a women’s health clinic that used Mother’s Day in
its advertising campaign.
“It wouldn’t be fair to call Anna
‘crazy,’ because so many women of this time were written off for
fighting for what they believed in,” says Antolini. “She was passionate
Jarvis continued fighting for the abolishment of
Mother’s Day until she died penniless in 1948 at the age of 84 at
Philadelphia's Marshall Square Sanitarium,
a now-closed mental asylum, where she lived out the last four years of
her life. Jarvis didn't get the chance to restore Mother's Day to its
original sentiment, but honoring your own mother with a heartfelt "thank
you" and some quality time would, of course, be a nice gesture. Jarvis
Edited by PurplePhase - May 11 2014 at 5:46pm