Mother's Day founder protested, threatened lawsuits over commercialization of holiday

Anna Jarvis, who campaigned for Mother's Day to be recognized as a national holiday, was arrested for protesting the commercialization of the holiday.

Posted on May 11, 2014 at 2:38 p.m.

The founder of Mother's Day hated the commercialization of her holiday and was even arrested protesting it.

According to a report from the Columbus Dispatch, Anna Jarvis began the celebration of Mother's Day with a small gathering of family and friends in 1907 to honor her own mother on the second anniversary of her death.

She then campaigned for the day to be proclaimed a holiday. It started slowly and spread throughout communities in Jarvis' home state of West Virginia. It was proclaimed a state holiday in 1910.

On May 8, 1914, Congress passed a joint resolution making the second Sunday in May a national holiday honoring the country's mothers.

Jarvis, who thought the holiday should be about sentiment and not shopping, immediately thought people were misinterpreting the holiday as candy and card manufacturers moved in to make a profit.

“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,” Jarvis reportedly said, according to the Dispatch. “And candy! You take a box to Mother — and then eat most of it yourself. A petty sentiment.”

Hallmark and other companies were selling Mother's Day cards by the 1920s.

Jarvis organized boycott and threatened lawsuits.

She crashed a candymakers convention in 1923 and in 1925 protested at a gathering of the American War Mothers, an organization that raised money selling the carnations that had become associated with Mother's Day.

Jarvis was arrested at that gathering for disturbing the peace.

She died in a sanitarium in 1948. She never married or became a mother herself.


Recommended for You

Back to top ^