The Sweet and Sad History of Mother's Day

If this past Sunday held true to form it was one of the busiest and most lucrative days of the year for U.S. flower shops and phone companies. Since 1914, Americans have dedicated the second Sunday in May to their mother. A few short years later greeting card companies saw the financial potential and joined the celebration. Today, Hallmark estimates we give 141 million Mother's Day cards every year.

Ironically, it was that very commercialism that turned the woman who started Mother's Day against the holiday. Anna Marie Jarvis was 12 when she is said to have overheard her mom praying that one day a memorial day would be established to honor mothers for all their hard work. In the years following her mother's death in 1905, Anna Marie held church tributes in her mom's honor, eventually adding carnations to the celebrations. She recruited supporters and launched a letter writing campaign to establish the day nationwide. In 1914, Congress federally recognized Mother's Day and President Woodrow Wilson signed it into law.

But 10 years later, after flowers and greeting cards became the go-to Mother's Day gifts, Anna May, upset by the commercialization of the holiday, set her sights on eradicating Mother's Day. For the rest of her life she spent most of her time and all of her money fighting to repeal the day she'd worked so hard to establish. Despite her efforts, the holiday took root and is now celebrated on a variety of different days throughout the year in many countries around the globe.

How do you celebrate your mother? And if you're a mom, how do you prefer to be honored?


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