Let me just start out by saying Happy Mother’s Day to my lovely wife (mother of our children) and of course my own charming mother with her peace and love. Alright, now that that’s out of the way, grab yourself a barstool as I make known the roots of Mother’s Day.
- Anna Jarvis
Born in Webster, North Carolina on May 1, 1864, Anna Jarvis grew up with a good education, strong religious background, and as you may have guessed, a great amount of love and respect for her mother. Her mother, Ann Jarvis, was a social activist and community organizer during America’s civil war. She was also a woman of strong faith and apparently a compelling speaker. During a Sunday school sermon she had given, her daughter Anna supposedly gained the inspiration she later needed in life to push a movement that would lead to the recognition of mothers everywhere.
After Ann’s death in 1905, Anna built up some momentum for the movement towards a Mother’s Day based on the idea that a mother is “the person who has done more for you than anyone in the world.” It’s not the most catchy pitch ever thrown out there, but for a lot of people, she’s not wrong. By 1908 she succeeded in getting it brought in front of Congress only to be turned away with a comical response from them stating that by proclaiming mother’s day, they’d also have to proclaim a mother-in-law’s day. I’m almost certain laughter ensued. No offense Pam (my mother-in-law) but that’s pretty funny.
However, with Anne’s persistence and hard work, by 1911 all the U.S. states were officially recognizing Mother’s Day as a local holiday. As far as acts of Congress go, it wasn’t too long after when President Woodrow Wilson signed a proclamation designating Mother’s Day to be a national holiday in 1914, and it is to be held on the second Sunday of May each year.
Nearly right away business’ began to commercialize the holiday, taking advantage of the opportunity to profit off Mother’s Day merchandise. It began by overpricing white carnations, a flower that Anna herself believed symbolized a mother’s pure love and sacrifice. The flower industry then pushed the sale of red carnations to represent mother’s who have passed away. Soon after that, the card industry jumped on the bandwagon, followed by chocolate makers, then the jewelry industry, and so on. Nowadays Mother’s Day is an enormous marketing machine targeting profit over sincerity.
All of this made Anna frustrated and bitter. She was quoted remarking, “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.”
On November 24, 1948, Anne died and was buried next to her mother. She was never married and never had any children. Could this be the true definition of irony? You tell me.
- Bar Related Subject?
Unlike here in the U.S. where mothers are showered with cards, flowers, and chocolate, across the pond in the U.K., mothers are traditionally taken out for brunch at a restaurant or pub. Apparently, it’s such a busy day for food and drink establishments that if you don’t call ahead to your favorite place, you’ll not be getting a table. I think they have the right idea over there. We all know when the gathering is at home who will end up putting the most work into getting everything ready beforehand and cleaning up afterward. All the hardworking and ever caring mothers out there. So why not take your mother out for a brunch that they don’t have to prepare or clean up, and enjoy a cocktail or two with her before noon. Nothing says “I love you mom” like a little day drinking at your favorite pub to let go and forget about all the usual day to day responsibilities of motherhood. Come on America, get on the right page here.
On that note, I think I’ll close my tab, go home, pour the wife a glass of wine and fold some laundry. Although I am pretty tired, maybe I’ll just eat some ice cream and then go to bed instead. See you next week.