May 09, 2010

The History of Mother's Day

Before I begin - Tomorrow is my 1st Blogoversary! I did my first post last year, on Mother's Day. What a fun year it's been! A big thank you to all the wonderful people who read and follow and comment...I appreciate your interest, and totally enjoy your input!

After the devastation of the Civil War, Julia Ward Howe wanted to end all war (and keep sons from killing the sons of other mothers); Anna M. Jarvis simply wanted to honor her own mother.

That's how Mother's Day got its start. And US businesses have tried to exploit the day ever since.

Anna Jarvis' mom, also named Anna Jarvis, loved white carnations. On that first celebration at church in 1908, the younger Jarvis presented all the mothers with two white carnations.

The florist industry has never been the same. Ms. Jarvis continued to press business leaders and government officials to make Mother's Day a national holiday. Finally, in 1914, Woodrow Wilson signed the law that has made Mother's Day fall on the second Sunday in May.

As businesses began to exploit the day, Ms. Jarvis fought against the crass commercialization. 

I found some additional info here: 

The holiday flourished in the United States and flowers, especially white carnations, became very popular. One business journal, Florists Review, went so far as to print, “This was a holiday that could be exploited.” But the budding commercialization of Mother's Day greatly disturbed Jarvis, so she vociferously opposed what she perceived as a misuse of the holiday. In 1923 she sued to stop a Mother’s Day event, and in the 1930's she was arrested for disturbing the peace at the American War Mothers group. She was protesting their sale of flowers. In the 1930’s Jarvis also petitioned against the postage stamp featuring her Mother, a vase of white carnations and the word “Mother’s Day.” Jarvis was able to have the words “Mother’s Day” removed. The flowers remained. In 1938, Time Magazine ran an article about Jarvis's fight to copyright Mother's Day, but by then it was already too late to change the commercial trend.
In opposition to the flower industry’s exploitation of the holiday, Jarvis wrote, “What will you do to route charlatans, bandits, pirates, racketeers, kidnappers and other termites that would undermine with their greed one of the finest, noblest and truest movements and celebrations?” Despite her efforts, flower sales on Mother's Day continued to grow. Florist's Review wrote, “Miss Jarvis was completely squelched.”

Anna Jarvis died in 1948, blind, poor and childless. Jarvis would never know that it was, ironically, The Florist's Exchange that had anonymously paid for her care (can you imagine the turning in her grave over that?).

Here's to the "mother" of Mother's Day, Anna Jarvis. As she had no children of her own, she missed all the heartfelt and homemade "treasures" presented to mothers and grandmothers over the years.

Thank you, Ms. Jarvis. You knew, even then, that a bit of construction paper and mucilage could mean love more than any storebought bouquet or fancy gift.

Here's a link to the entire article.
What "treasures" did you receive this year?


  1. Happy Blogiversary and Happy Mother's Day!

    It truly has become a commercialized mess, hasn't it?

  2. Wow, I did not know the story of Mother's Day. Thanks for sharing!!!

  3. Happy Mother's Day AND Blog Anniversary!

  4. Wow ... what an interesting story ... but kind of sad and tragic too.

    Happy 1 Year Blogiversary!


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