Kit Steinkellner
May 10, 2015 9:42 am

When we think “Mother’s Day” we think flowers and brunches (and OF COURSE all the amazing moms and mom figures in our lives). However, as the Huffington Post reports, when Anna Jarvis founded Mother’s Day in 1908, flowers and brunch were the last thing on her mind.

Jarvis was unhappy that most American holidays were dedicated to honoring the accomplishments of men, and so she started a letter-writing campaign to make Mother’s Day a national holiday.

The campaign worked and Congress made Mother’s Day a national holiday in 1914. The one thing Jarvis DIDN’T want was for her holiday to be commercialized, and she fought hard against the florists and candy and card companies looking to make money off of her holiday.

In 1924, on the tenth anniversary of Mother’s Day becoming a national holiday, Jarvis gave the Miami Herald a piece of her mind:

“Commercialization of Mother’s Day is growing every year,” Jarvis complained. “Since the movement has spread to all parts of the world, many things have tried to attach themselves because of its success.”

She came down pretty hard on florists, taking them to task for spreading the idea that red carnations “should be worn for mothers who have passed away,” pointing out that “This has boosted the sale of red carnations.” She didn’t go much easier on candy confectioners  (“There is no connection between candy and this day. It is pure commercialization.”) or greeting card companies (“Write a letter to your mother. No person is too busy to do this. Any mother would rather have a line of the worst scribble from her son or daughter than any fancy greeting card or telegram.”)

Of course, we love flowers, candy, and cards, and love any excuse to bust out these treats. Still, we love Jarvis for fighting against the commercialization of the holiday and reminding us all what the day is really about: celebrating the accomplishments of extraordinary women.

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