Today is Mother’s Day, a day when we celebrate and spoil the special women in our lives. Surprisingly, Mother’s Day was established in the 20th century, which is strange, since I would have thought we would have had multiple dedications to our mothers over the years.After all, where would we be without dear sweet mom?
The first incarnation of Mother’s Day was started with this mentality. In 1905, an American woman named Anna Jarvis wanted to remember her deceased mother for all the wonderful things she’d done for her in life. Jarvis’ mother (also named Anna Jarvis) hosted a number of women’s activity groups during the American Civil War, including the Mother’s Day Work Club and Mother’s Friendship Day to promote reconciliation.
In 1908, Jarvis held the first Mother’s Day as a day when people would take a moment to thank their mothers for all the sacrifices they had to make while raising their children. It was a major success, and soon Jarvis decided she wanted to take it national. Thanks to word of mouth, the holiday was spread from state to state. Finally, in 1914, President Woodrow Wilson dedicated the second Sunday of May to Mother’s Day.
Of course, things didn’t stay simple for long. Many people realized that this new holiday offered a variety of new business opportunities, and were quick to capitalize on it. Florists designed lovely flower bouquets, chocolatiers created new molds, and Hallmark cards made a new section for people who wanted to tell their mothers just how much she means to them.
This influx of capitalization actually caused Jarvis to despise the very holiday she worked so hard to get put on the calendar. She spent the rest of her life fighting against the commercialized Mother’s Day and trying to get it removed. This battle took both her health and her money, until she died in 1948 at the age of eighty four.
Even though Jarvis despised what Mother’s Day has turned into, she did bring up some valid points. The commercialization of her holiday completely glossed over the original intention: for people to show their mother’s how much they value them and their roles in our lives. Jarvis herself summed it up best when she said this about the capitalization of Mother’s Day, “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.”
Our mothers are arguably the most important figures in our lives, so why wouldn’t we treat them with respect and love them every day, rather than buy expensive flowers and greeting cards for our mothers just because the calendar tells us to?
If you want to do something especially nice for your mom this Mother’s Day, whynot cater to her interests and hobbies? There are plenty of local services available for you to spoil your mother with, including cleaning services, car detailing, or buying prepared meals. Or better yet, offer to do the jobs these services provide yourself. Or just make a point to spend time with her. Any one of these would be more meaningful than a simple little card.
Have a happy Mother’s Day this year, and remember; treat every day like it is Mother’s Day, because mothers matter every day, not just for one day.