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Has the True Sentiment Gone Out of Mother's Day?

Mary Baldwin College alumna Anna Jarvis was the driving force behind the creation of Mother’s Day. But she would not be pleased at all with Mother’s Day as it is celebrated in 2009, according to a source at her alma mater.

“Miss Jarvis thought Mother’s Day should be a day you spend with your mother, or a day when you do something special for her like fix her dinner or repair her broken stairs,” says William Pollard, archivist at Mary Baldwin College in Staunton, VA. “It was not supposed to be a day where you buy her something.”

Pollard says Jarvis wanted to keep Mother’s Day non-commercial--a battle she knew she had lost by the time of her death in 1948.

To understand how the day became nationally celebrated it’s important to know a bit about Anna Jarvis. She was graduated from Augusta Female Seminary, which is now Mary Baldwin College, in 1883 and moved back home with her parents. In 1905, Anna’s mother passed away. After her mother’s death, Jarvis spent years sending letters to public officials urging them to set aside a day to honor mothers.

In 1914, that day came. President Woodrow Wilson, whose birthplace was just across the street from Mary Baldwin College, signed the proclamation formally establishing Mother’s Day.

Over the years, however, Anna Jarvis became bitter with the commercialization of Mother’s Day.

She has been quoted as saying: “Mother’s Day has nothing to do with candy. Candy is junk. You give your mother a box of candy and then go home and eat most of it yourself, or else you give her hard candy that breaks her teeth or dentures.”

“Flowers are about half-dead by the time they’re delivered,” said Jarvis. “It’s really a shame to waste flowers for Mother’s Day. Florists have made millions of dollars out of my idea and they don’t deserve it.”

So what do you think? What is the best way to honor our Mothers on Mother's Day?


Pat Montgomery said…
Bev, I have two comments. My mom died 11 yrs ago and I have a sweet stepmom. I like to take her to lunch and just spend time with her, as I did my mom.

Second, when my kids were growing up, my ex always took them on Mothers Day. We would have some time together in the morning and then I had a whole day to do whatever I wanted! It was heaven. Is that wrong? :)
Susan Adcox said…
I don't want flowers, cards or gifts on Mother's Day. I just want to be with my family if possible. That's the best gift of all. And I think Anna Jarvis would approve.
Eileen Williams said…
I'm sorry to say that I lost my mom eleven years ago. And, yes, I did buy her a gift on Mother's Day. But we also got together either to go out for a meal or have one at the house.
As a mother myself, I think the greatest gift is the one of feeling close and connected with your children, no matter what form it comes in.
Anonymous said…

I totally disagree with Jarvis about the quality of flowers (being half dead). Obviously she never got fresh ones. And yes, while many florists have capitalized on Mothers Day, (as well as hundreds of other holidays), think about the Young men and women who are in Iraq serving their country. THey cannot get home for mothers day and I can tell you when a driver of mine brings a bouquet to the door of an unexpecting mother, her eyes fill with tears as she looks at the flowers and reads the card.

There have been studies that show the emotional healing power of flowers so to say flowers are a waste for Mothers Day is simply NOT TRUE.

I hope you have the best mothers day ever, Beverly. You are an amazing woman and your daughter is lucky to have you!

Mom to Mom,


Read my blog - for more traditions, facts and trivia about Mothers Day!
Debra Stokes said…
I, too, hate the commercialization of Mother's Day . . . and Christmas . . . and Easter, etc. People have lost the meaning. It isn't at all about what you give, it is about how you feel. How you feel may not determine what you give or do, but it sure determines the spirit in which it is given. The idea is to show how much you love and appreciate the Mother's we honor. That could be with a wildflower picked out of the yard or a diamond necklace from Tiffany's - there's no price tag on real love.
Debbie said…
I can understand Anna's sorrow over it becoming 'commercialised', but like most replies here, I too lost my mother and miss spoiling her on this special day.

Mum LOVED flowers, and if I was unable to be with her physically, mum still appreciated the surprise delivery to her door. It's the fact the mother knows her children are thinking of her.....some don't even get that!

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