Modern day Mother’s Day is a wonderful celebration of our precious moms and one that these days is reported to have shoppers spend millions and millions of dollars to commerate the day. However did you know the history of Mother’s Day actually has a past that is a little dark?
It all started with a woman called Anna Jarvis who had a simple wish to honour her own mother.
Long before her death, Jarvis’ mom Ann Reeves Jarvis hoped someone would dedicate a day to honor mothers. When she died on May 9, 1905, Jarvis set out to do just that. She began campaigning not only for her mom but for moms everywhere.
It started off with her hometown of Grafton, West Virginia, which takes credit for hosting the first official Mother’s Day celebration three years later at Andrews Methodist Episcopal Church. Since then, the church has been dubbed the “International Mother’s Day Shrine.”
Things didn’t become official however until 1914, when President Woodrow Wilson signed a bill recognizing Jarvis’ Mother’s Day as a national holiday.
There’s a reason ‘mother’ is singular.
Jarvis was very intentional about the name of her holiday. It’s Mother’s Day — as in one mom. The way Jarvis put it, Mother’s Day is a day to honor “the best mother who ever lived, yours.”
But Mother’s Day became far more popular than Jarvis expected and she became disillusioned with how commercialized it quickly became. She couldn’t stand the idea of people spending so much money on extravagant flower arrangements, greeting cards and overly priced sweets, so she took action.
First, she went after florists, protesting their marketing of those beautiful and ornate carnations. Then, her protests escalated to arrests for public disturbances.
Jarvis didn’t stop there. She went after first lady Eleanor Roosevelt for using Mother’s Day as a way to promote the health and welfare of women and children. While it was true that Jarvis’ mother was a community health advocate, Jarvis still didn’t like the association.
Sadly, Jarvis died in a sanitarium in 1948. The holiday she created however, lives on.
Today, more people purchase flowers and plants for Mother’s Day than for any other holiday except Christmas/Hanukkah. This year alone, North Americans will spend $25 billion on the holiday. And most of that money will be spent on jewelry: $5.2 billion.
Regardless of its beginnings, wishing all the great moms a wonderful day.
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