23 May 2024

Mother’s Day: How it started and why its founder ended up regretting it

Business Eye Report

Published: 13:46, 12 May 2024

Mother’s Day: How it started and why its founder ended up regretting it

Mother's Day is a global celebration held on the second Sunday of May every year to honour and appreciate our mothers. This year, it falls on Sunday. The day is dedicated to recognizing the countless contributions of mothers, which are often taken for granted. It is a day to acknowledge the immeasurable and selfless efforts of every mother towards the success of her children, and to express our gratitude towards her.

On this day, children, partners and other family members show their love and gratitude to their mother by giving them gifts, cards and other nice things. Now, as we celebrate Mother's Day, here's how the day started, why it is celebrated on the second Sunday of May and why its founder ended up regretting it, reports NDTV.

How Mother's Day came into existence

Mother's Day was an eternal tribute to Anna Jarvis' mother after her death in 1905. According to the BBC, on her mother's second death anniversary, Anna Jarvis bought 500 white carnations for a memorial service she organized in her West Virginia hometown. She campaigned to make Mother's Day a recognized holiday in the US after her mother, Ann Reeves Jarvis, a peace activist, died in 1905. 

Ann Jarvis cared for wounded soldiers on both sides of the American Civil War and created Mother's Day Work Clubs to address people's health issues.

To honour her mother by continuing the work she started, she campaigned to set aside a day to honour all mothers, as she believed a mother is "the person who has done more for you than anyone in the world". As a result, she held the first formal Mother's Day celebration in Grafton, West Virginia, in May 1908, three years after her mother died.  

Why Mother's Day is celebrated on the second Sunday of May every year

Soon after, it grew into a full-fledged movement, with Jarvis and her friends writing to prominent personalities in the US to demand that the day be declared a national holiday. By 1911, it had spread to every state in the country. And finally, in 1914, then US president Woodrow Wilson declared the second Sunday in May to be celebrated as Mother's Day. 

Now, every second Sunday of May, we celebrate Mother's Day to honour our mothers. This day serves as a reminder to express gratitude for the countless sacrifices mothers make, often behind the scenes, to ensure the well-being and happiness of their families.

A day to honour all motherly figures

Mother's Day also serves as a broader cultural celebration of the importance of maternal figures in society. This day is celebrated not only to honour biological mothers but also grandmothers, stepmothers, adoptive mothers, and other maternal figures who have made a positive impact on the lives of others.

How to celebrate Mother's Day? 

On Mother's Day, family members try to make sure that their mother is happy and enjoys her life. They surprise her with gifts or take her out for dinner or even cook for her at home. Mother's Day has also become a commercial phenomenon, with retailers offering gifts and experiences to help people express their appreciation for their mothers.

Story of Anna Jarvis, the woman who regretted creating Mother's Day

This commercialisation of the day horrified the founder of the day so much that she regretted starting Mother's Day and spent the rest of her life campaigning to have it rescinded, the BBC reported. Anna Jarvis's campaign for a special day to celebrate mothers was one she inherited from her own mother, Ann Reeves Jarvis. She was very intentional about the name of her holiday. It's Mother's Day, as in one mom. The way Jarvis put it, Mother's Day is a day to honour "the best mother who ever lived, yours". 

However, Mother's Day became very popular. By the early 1920s, the card companies started selling Mother's Day cards. But Anna Jarvis believed that this commercialisation of the day exploited the idea of Mother's Day. She couldn't stand the idea of people spending so much money on extravagant flower arrangements, sappy greeting cards and overly priced chocolates.

While others profited from the day, Anna Jarvis' efforts to hold on to the original meaning of the day led to her own economic hardship. She spent every penny fighting the commercialisation of Mother's Day. She died of heart failure in November 1948.