Anna Jarvis, was the ‘father’ of Mother’s Day, who ironically came to hate the holiday with all her heart.
WASHINGTON, D.C. – More than 3.8 million American women will be celebrating Mother’s Day on Sunday, May 8 for the first time, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.
In the United States, Mother’s Day continues to be celebrated by presenting mothers and other women with gifts and flowers. It has become one of the biggest holidays for consumer spending.
Families also celebrate by giving mothers a day off from household activities like cooking or other chores.
Anna Jarvis would have hated it.
Most mothers have never heard of Anna Jarvis. New mothers especially will be too busy taking care of the little ones to bother wondering how Mother’s Day came about.
The origins of Mother’s Day as celebrated in the United States date back to the 19th century.
In the years before the Civil War, Ann Reeves Jarvis of West Virginia helped start “Mothers’ Day Work Clubs” to teach local women how to properly care for their children.
These clubs later became a unifying force in a region of the country still divided over the Civil War. In 1868, Ann Reeves Jarvis organized “Mothers’ Friendship Day,” at which mothers gathered with former Union and Confederate soldiers to promote reconciliation.
The official Mother’s Day holiday arose decades later as a result of the efforts of Anna Jarvis, the daughter of Ann Reeves Jarvis.
Following her mother’s 1905 death, Anna Jarvis conceived of Mother’s Day as a way of honoring the sacrifices mothers made for their children.
With financial backing from Philadelphia department store magnate John Wanamaker, in May 1908 she organized the first official Mother’s Day celebration at a Methodist church in Grafton, West Virginia.
That same day also saw thousands of people attend a Mother’s Day event at one of Wanamaker’s retail stores in Philadelphia.
Following the success of her first Mother’s Day, Anna Jarvis resolved to see her holiday added to the national calendar.
She launched a letter writing campaign to newspapers and prominent politicians urging the adoption of a special day honoring motherhood.
Finally, her persistence paid off in 1914 when President Woodrow Wilson signed a measure officially establishing the second Sunday in May as Mother’s Day.
Once Mother’s Day became a national holiday, however, it was not long before florists, card companies and other merchants capitalized on its popularity.
By 1920, Anna Jarvis had become disgusted with how the holiday had been commercialized. She denounced her own idea and urged people to stop buying Mother’s Day flowers, cards and candies.
By the time of her death in 1948, Anna Jarvis had disowned the holiday altogether. She had even urged the government to remove Mother’s Day from the American calendar.
But Mother’s Day was here to stay. After all, doing away with the holiday would have been un-American.
On a happier note, Mother’s Day spending is expected to total $31.7 billion this year, up 13 percent from 2021, according to the annual consumer survey released by the National Retail Foundation (NRF).
Approximately 84 percent of U.S. adults are expected to celebrate Mother’s Day.
The average consumer spending is projected to be $245.76, a record for the holiday, up 11 percent from last year and up 25 percent compared to the pre-pandemic level of 2019.
And it’s all thanks to Anna Jarvis.