We’re celebrating Mother’s Day all wrong according to holiday’s founder

If that card is printed, that's out. Those flowers are out, too.
If that card is printed, that's out. Those flowers are out, too. Photo by OJO Images / Rex Features

If you’re thinking of spending big bucks on mom this weekend, showering her with flowers and chocolate—think twice. Anna Jarvis, known as the founder of mother’s day, lamented how commercialized the day had become in an interview ten years after the holiday was officially recognized.

A hundred years ago, in 1914, U.S President Woodrow Wilson made the official announcement declaring Mother’s Day as a national holiday.  The holiday was to be held each year on the second Sunday of May. Soon after this announcement, Jarvis started to campaign against it.

In an interview, published by the Miami Daily News and Metropolis, Jarvis discussed the true meaning of the holiday.BIG

“Mother’s Day is a personal family memorial day.  It’s a celebration for daughters and sons; a thanks offering for the blessings of good homes.”

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Jarvis, not a mother herself, campaigned for about a decade to have a recognized day to honour mothers. She was also the president of the Mother’s Day International Association. The second Sunday in May was the date of her mother’s death in 1905.

By 1924, she was worried that greed was starting to overshadow the real meaning of the holiday.

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

One hundred years later, these ‘many things’ she speaks of are an integral part of how modern day society celebrates. Take for example flowers: in 2013, 45 per cent of Canadians said they would be purchasing flowers for their mother.

This is something Jarvis disagreed with: “The white carnation is the emblem of mother’s day because it typifies the beauty truth and fidelity of mother-love. But it does not mean people should wear a white carnation. This false idea has led to florists flagrantly boosting prices for the Mother’s Day trade.”

But who else was taking advantage of the holiday?

“Confectioners put a white ribbon on a box of candy and advance the price just because it’s Mother’s Day, there is no connection between candy and this day. It is pure commercialization.”

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And greeting card companies weren’t off the hook either; Jarvis had a strong opinion about that too:

“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.”

Fast forward a century, where nearly half of Canadians polled (47 per cent) are planning to get mom a holiday card.

But were it not showering her with gifts, how else would we celebrate our mothers?  According to Jarvis, it’s quite simple.

“Make Mother’s Day a family day of reunions, messages to the absent and the spirit of good will to all.  Go home on Mother’s Day, or at least write to mother.”