Monday, May 14, 2012

Charlatans, bandits, pirates, racketeers, kidnappers and termites

In response to my Australian friends questioning whether Americans celebrated Mother's Day, I gave them a quick history lesson that Mother's Day was founded by Anna Jarvis, an American, in 1914 to honor her mother, who had conducted the Mother's Friendship Day during the Civil War.  In 1908 she had first unofficially celebrated the day with white carnations and florists became very supportive of the movement (and its commercial appeal).

And now for the other side to the tale...

It didn't take long for Jarvis to regret how the celebration went from a day of sentiment to a day of profit.  She later referred to florists, card companies and confectioner as "Charlatans, bandits, pirates, racketeers, kidnappers and termites that would undermine with their greed one of the finest, noblest and truest movements and celebrations."

Here was some of her advice:
A maudlin, insincere printed card or ready-made telegram means nothing except that you're too lazy to write to the woman who has done more for you than anyone else in the world. [...] Any mother would rather have a line of the worst scribble from her son or daughter than any fancy greeting card.

Eventually Jarvis' crusade against the commercial monster that she had inadvertently birthed took its toll and she ended up as a "recluse and a hoarder" who lived out the end of her days in a sanitarium, unaware that a group of florists paid part of her asylum tab.

Here is the link to Mental Floss' article regarding Jarvis: The Founder of Mother's Day Later Fought to Have It Abolished

6 comments:

ulaca said...

Civilised folk celebrate Mothering Sunday, anyway.

architart said...

Or Monday morning in HK if her mother lives in Western United States.

Laurence said...

raldsett ssionlyAnd there was me thinking that Mothering Sunday (aka Mothers Day) had always been the fourth Sunday of Lent - before someone in the United States (in 1920) decided to hijack it and change the date.......!!

architart said...

You're correct and that's the holiday celebrated in the UK and some other countries. The current, commercial holiday was founded during the Civil War as a call for disarmament. Not sure how mothers uniting against war becomes hijacking though...

Foamier said...

American Mothers Day is a relatively recent phenomenon, only made truly popular even more recently by Hallmark Corporation. British Mothers Day, which I believe is celebrated in March, predates the colonial version by a couple of centuries.

architart said...

Correct, Fumie. I got a stronger reaction than expected from people wanting to clarify that the other Mother's Day was already in existence when the modern one was "invented." Similarly Passover can't compete with the giant chocolate rabbits of Easter.