Anna Jarvis (1864-1948), a woman from West Virginia, is known as the Mother of Mother’s Day. Anna was inspired to celebrate mother’s day by her own mother, who was an activist and social worker who labor tirelessly for the sanitary condition, health and wellbeing of women and children. In 1905, when her mother died Anna began to plan for a way to remember her. In 1908 she gave out carnations, her mother’s favorite flower, to all the members of her church and asked the minister to preach a Mother’s Day sermon. Along with the worship service there were other Sunday School activities all surrounding the theme of giving thanks to God for his gift of mothers. Anna encouraged the children, and all the people in her church, to write simple letters of thanks to their mothers. This practice became so popular that by 1911 Mother’s Day was celebrated in almost every state and in 1914 the U. S. Congress passed a law delegating the second Sunday in May as Mother’s Day.
Though Mother’s Day began as a celebration in church, it obviously did not stay that way. The celebration moved very quickly from the church to the shop. Less than 10 years after the first official Mother’s Day the celebration had turned into such a empty commercial venture that Anna Jarvis began campaigning against the abuse of this day. The flower industry, the candy makers and the card companies all saw the great financial potential on this day and none of them hesitated to capitalize on it. Towards the end of her life Anna was arrested for protesting “Mother’s Day Sales” and campaigned vigorously against the abuse of the day. She wrote “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. And candy! You take a box to Mother—and then eat most of it yourself. A pretty sentiment!” Anna sadly spent the last chapter of her life broke and in an mental facility (Ironically, her bills were secretly paid by the Floral Exchange, whom she accused of hijacking Mother’s Day from her).
This Sunday we will once again celebrate the day that Anna Jarvis helped to create. Over 100 years after the first Mother’s Day this continues to be one of the most commercially successful days of the year. The National Restaurant Association claims that Mother’s Day is the most popular day to dine out in America. The National Retail Federation estimated that Americans spent in excess of $15 billion for Mother’s Day, dinning out was the biggest expense. Approximately $2.6 billion will be spent on flowers, $1.53 billion on pampering gifts, and $68 million on cards. Almost 8 percent of all jewelry revenues will be generated on Mother’s Day.
Given the economic hardship of our times. How will you celebrate? Anna Jarvis suggested worshipping the God who gave you your mothers and writing a simple letter… That’s a good start.