Simone de Beauvoir

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Thank you, Anna Jarvis

I had been taught that President Woodrow Wilson "invented" Mother's Day in appreciation of his mother and subsequently all mothers.

Apparently, he did not; Anna Reeves Jarvis did. Jarvis, the mother of thirteen children--only four lived to adulthood-- started the idea as a way to improve the infant mortality rate in West Virginia.

Ten years later, it becomes Mothers' Friendship Day.

In 1870, Julia Ward Howe suggests "Mother's Peace Day" with the idea that mother's should protect their sons and that war is preventable.

1873 sees the first "Mother's Day".

Anna Reeves Jarvis died on the second Sunday in May 1905 and her daughter, Anna Jarvis, organizes a memorial service for her mother in 1907. It becomes an official holiday in West Virginia in 1910.

President Wilson had made it an official holiday in 1914 and Canada joined in a year later.

Jarvis conceived the idea of "Mother's Day" for each individual family to honor their mother; it wasn't until 1915 that the idea "blossomed" and the cost of flowers--specifically white carnations, the flower used in the original gatherings in West Virginia-- skyrocketed. Card and candy industries cash in on the idea as well.

In 1922, Jarvis encouraged boycotts against florists who raise prices and then she threatens to sue NY Mother's Day Committee over its large celebration.

In 1934 the Post Office presents a commemorative stamp: of Whistler's mother!

Anna Jarvis then takes on Eleanor Roosevelt, who she accuses of using Mother's Day to benefit charities.

Jarvis died in 1948, penniless, in an asylum. She never had any children. At this time, 40 countries through out the world celebrated Mother's Day.

She never made a penny from the holiday.

Ironically, it is reported that the Florist's Exchange paid for her care.

Retailers report it as the second highest gift giving day of the year behind Christmas.

In honor of Anna Jarvis, I will send white carnations. I hope you do as well.

Thank you Anna Reeves Jarvis and Anna Jarvis for all you did.

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