Sunday, May 8, 2016

Mother's Day

A happy day wish to all mothers everywhere, especially to the Byters who are mothers and to Kate. For those whose mothers are departed, let’s take a moment to also remember them and say mentally to ourselves “Even though you’re no longer here, I remember you and love you, Mum.”

Some history:

Mother’s Day originated with Anna Jarvis (1864-1948) wish to honour her mother, Ann Reeves Jarvis, who died in 1905. Her mother had been a peace activist who cared for wounded soldiers on both sides of the American Civil War and who had created Mother’s Day Work Clubs to address public health issues. Anna Jarvis wanted to honour her mother by continuing the work she started and to set aside a day to honour all mothers  Jarvis believed that mothers were "the person who has done more for you than anyone in the world".

As a result of her efforts, the modern holiday of Mother's Day was first celebrated in 1908. Nonetheless that year the US Congress rejected a proposal to make Mother's Day an official holiday, joking that they would have to proclaim also a "Mother-in-law's Day". However, owing to the efforts of Anna Jarvis, by 1911 all US states observed the holiday, with some of them officially recognising Mother's Day as a local holiday, the first being West Virginia, Jarvis' home state, in 1910. In 1914, Woodrow Wilson signed a proclamation designating Mother's Day, held on the second Sunday in May, as a national holiday to honour mothers.

Although Jarvis was successful in founding Mother's Day, she became resentful of the commercialisation of the holiday. By the early 1920s, Hallmark Cards and other companies had started selling Mother's Day cards. Jarvis believed that the companies had misinterpreted and exploited the idea of Mother's Day, and that the emphasis of the holiday was on sentiment, not profit. As a result, she organised boycotts of Mother's Day, and threatened to issue lawsuits against the companies involved. Jarvis argued that people should appreciate and honor their mothers through handwritten letters expressing their love and gratitude, instead of buying gifts and pre-made cards. Jarvis protested at a candy makers' convention in Philadelphia in 1923, and at a meeting of American War Mothers in 1925. By this time, carnations had become associated with Mother's Day, and the selling of carnations by the American War Mothers to raise money angered Jarvis, who was arrested for disturbing the peace.

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.

— Anna Jarvis

Jarvis' holiday was adopted by other countries, and it is now celebrated all over the world.

Jarvis and her sister spent the rest of their lives and all of their inheritance battling the commercialisation of Mother’s Day. They trademarked the names Mother’s Day and Second Sunday in May to try and keep merchants from using them but there were too many merchants and too many lawyers. Commercial interests, especially the greeting card manufacturers that Jarvis particularly loathed, organised and launched a counter attack portraying her as demented and obsessed. Newspapers, which profited from Mother’s Day advertising, supported the merchants.

Jarvis and her sister were reduced to poverty as a result of their opposition to the commercialisation of Mother’s Day.

Anna Jarvis never married nor did she have any children. 

By 1944 she was placed in a sanitarium and she died in 1948, being buried next to her mother, sister and brother.


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