Every year on Mother’s Day, moms all over the world receive cards, flowers, phone calls, and macaroni jewelry boxes, all of them with the same sentiment. Thanks, mom! But dear old mom’s sweet day of gratitude left its creator quite bitter. The ancient Greeks were among the first to pay tribute to moms. Their spring festival honored Rhea, the mother of all Greek gods; that holiday didn’t pan out. In mid-evil Britain, servants were given the fourth Sunday of Lent to go home to spend a day with their moms. This custom was called Mothering Sunday. But the modern era Mother’s Day was created by Anna Marie Jarvis. Anna admired her mother, who attended to the wounded during the Civil War and later became a community activist.
When young Anna was 12, it was believed that she heard her mother pray that one day, there might be a memorial day for mothers, for all the good they do. Young Anna never forgot the prayer, and when her mom died in May of 1905, a plan for Mother’s Day was born.
On the second anniversary of her mom’s death, Anna held a church memorial dedicated to her mother’s good deeds. In May of 1908, Anna held another memorial and handed out white carnations, her mom’s favorite flower.
She contacted Philadelphia philanthropist John Wanamaker, who joined a Mother’s Day committee in hopes of honoring all mothers all across the nation.
In 1910, West Virginia became the first state to observe the second Sunday in May as Mother’s Day. After a fierce letter-writing campaign, Anna got Congress to federally recognize the holiday.
In 1914, President Wilson signed a bill that officially made the second Sunday in May, Mother’s Day. The holiday was meant to be spent in church. Afterwards, sons and daughters would write loving letters to their mothers. Carnations were worn that day—pink or red carnations honored living mothers and white carnations honored mothers that passed.
With each year, more and more Mother’s Day carnations were sold and by 1920, greeting card companies got into the Mother’s Day business.
Anna was enraged by what she considered a lazy excuse for letters that should be handwritten. By 1924, the holiday creator was so appalled with the commercialization of Mother’s Day that she petitioned to abolish it.
In 1930, Anna was arrested for disturbing the peace at a Mother’s Day carnation sale. Sadly, Anna spent the rest of her life and family inheritance fighting the holiday. She died in 1948, leaving no children to remember her.
Since then, Mother’s Day has become one of the most profitable holidays for florists and the phone companies’ highest volume day of the year.
This probably wouldn’t please Anna, but deep down, she would have to be satisfied that on her Mother’s Day, millions of moms around the world receive extra attention and well-deserved hugs.
All on Mother’s Day. http://www.history.com/videos/history-of-mothers-day#history-of-mothers-day.