The Creator of Mother’s Day Hated It


Anna Jarvis hated Mother’s Day—and she created  it!

53085.adapt.768.1When Anna’s mother died in 1905, she was devastated. Anna’s mother had been a devout Christian  and Anna was extremely close to her. After the funeral, Anna would read and reread the sympathy cards, underlining all words and phrases that honored her mother. Anna decided to go further and set aside a day to honor her mother—and all mothers.

That day came on May 19, 1908. The celebration was held at the church in Grafton, West Virginia where Anna’s mother taught Sunday School. Anna had 500 white carnations—her mother’s favorite—delivered to the celebration.

The idea of Mother’s Day caught on, and Anna Jarvis made it her passion to promote Mother’s Day.  Unfortunately, that passion changed, and after Mother’s Day became a recognized holiday, Anna made it her passion to rescind the holiday.

She hated the commercialization of it.

What started out as a way to honor one’s mother—Anna promoted the idea of spending the day with mom or writing her a long letter—became an opportunity for the floral companies to sell white carnations. And then there’s the whole greeting card business. These folks—whether or not they had mothers of their own—really liked the profits from Mother’s Day.

Anna Jarvis was now on a mission to end what she had started:

  • She made legal threats.
  • On one occasion, she ordered the Mother’s Day salad served at the Wanamaker Department Store’s Tea Room in Philadelphia. When the salad was served, she dumped it on the ground in protest, paid for it, and left it a huff.
  • She fought charities that used Mother’s Day  as a way to raise funds—even charities dealing with maternal and infant mortality rates.
  • She was arrested for disturbing the peace when she tried to interrupt meetings or stop someone from selling white carnations.

Mother’s Day was her idea, and she had lost control of it.

If she hated it then, I wonder how she would feel about it now?

635972654716375295-Screen-Shot-2016-04-26-at-10.50.05-AMThis year for Mother’s Day, Hallmark is releasing cards geared toward the “new normal” of family structures.

While cards of the past focused solely on biological mothers, that doesn’t fit the family structure that many families have today, Lauren Benson, Creative Director at Hallmark cards said in a phone interview.

Today cards featuring messages to stay-at-home dads, divorced parents and same-sex couples will line shelves alongside typical Mother’s Day cards, Benson said.

635972654714815275-Screen-Shot-2016-04-26-at-11.01.02-AM“Now you see a huge range of situations represented including pet moms to two-moms and former in-laws,”  Benson said. “We are really trying to represent a diverse range of relationships that represent current society.” [USA TODAY]

I can’t tell you how many times my wife cried because our beagles didn’t give her a Mother’s Day card.

Pardon my sarcasm, but this is just another attempt to profit from inclusivity. Or to put it another way, 635972654716843301-Screen-Shot-2016-04-26-at-10.59.55-AMHallmark doesn’t want to be boycotted because they make mother’s day cards for mothers.

I’m all for honoring our moms—and those who have served a  maternal role at one time in our lives. But it just seems demeaning to mothers to make Mother’s Day about everyone. I get the need to honor grandmothers, step-mons, foster parent moms, and so forth, but it seems like Hallmark’s line of Mother’s Day cards is a little overboard: the greeting card equivalent of the participation trophy.

I don’t want to sound like Ann Jarvis. She was a control freak who lost her mind as she tried to get people to honor mothers just one way—her way. (The last few years of her life were spent in a mental asylum.)

Let’s honor people for whatever role they play in our lives. If she was your mom, honor her as your mom. If she was a dear friend who stood by you, honor her as such. If he was your dad, call him that with honor.

Be devoted to one another in love. Honor one another above yourselves” (Rom. 12:10). 

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