Inventor of Mother's Day Wants You To Stop Wasting Money
Americans are planning to spend an average of $139 on Mother's Day gifts this year. That's a stunning $16 billion national spending frenzy that would have horrified Anna Jarvis, the founder of Mother's Day.
Anna lobbied for the creation of the holiday as a tribute to her mother and mothers everywhere. Her efforts paid off in 1914 when President Wilson officially designated the second Sunday in May as Mother's Day.
Later on, after seeing her holiday cheapened by rampant commercialism, Anna denounced her own holiday. She wrote:
I wanted [Mother's Day] to be a day of sentiment, not profit.
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.
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? Source: About.com.
Ironically, Anna would spend the rest of her life fighting against the holiday she created. She tried claiming copyright over Mother's Day and started protesting so vigorously against it that she once got arrested for disturbing the peace.
The poignantly surreal ending to Anna's story sounds like something straight out of a John Irving novel:
In 1943, Jarvis was 79 years old and broke. Partially deaf and blind, she was transported to a sanitarium in West Chester, Pennsylvania.
For reasons unrecorded, the Florists' Exchange, a trade association, picked up some of her bills, unbeknownst to her. And even after she told a reporter she was sorry she ever started the whole thing, she received thousands of Mother's Day cards each May until she died, in 1948. Source: Smithsonian.
The next time you are tempted to cheapen Mother's Day with an expensive, guilt-assuaging gift, consider doing something more thoughtful instead, like making your own Mother's Day card or cooking her a special meal. That's what Anna (and your mother) would've wanted.
Senator Teller: "Mother's Day is Absolutely Absurd!"
If you are still not convinced by how artificial Mother's Day is, just take a look at this heated Senate debate over the establishment of Mother's Day:
Senator Jacob Gallinger (R-NH) judged the very idea of Mother’s Day to be an insult, as though his memory of his late mother "could only be kept green by some outward demonstration on Sunday, May 10."
"There are some thoughts that are so great and so sacred that they are belittled by movements of this character," lectured Senator Charles Fulton (R-Oregon).
Senator Henry Moore Teller (D-Colorado) scorned the resolution as "puerile," "absolutely absurd," and "trifling." He announced, "Every day with me is a mother’s day." Source: Lew Rockwell.
Well said Mr. Teller. You get the gold star for the day.