Illustration for article titled Founder of Mothers Day Wishes You Would Stop With All the Flowers and Cards

Anna Jarvis founded Mother's Day in 1914 as an effort to honor her mother, who'd founded a Mother's Friendship Day during the Civil War as a way to foster peace. Jarvis had included white carnations in the first unofficial celebration of Mother's Day she'd organized in 1908, and florists, seeing an opportunity for sales, had always been supportive of her movement to create an official holiday. But after that happened in 1914, Jarvis quickly tired of the commercialism that immediately surrounded the holiday. According to Mental Floss, Jarvis wanted the holiday "to be a day of sentiment, not profit." She turned on those who'd supported her movement and called florists, card companies, and candy companies,

[C]harlatans, bandits, pirates, racketeers, kidnappers and termites that would undermine with their greed one of the finest, noblest and truest movements and celebrations.


While they may have been trying to make a buck of something genuinely noble, kidnappers is probably a little harsh. These feelings led her to wage what turned out to be a pretty epic battle against all of the commercialism of Mother's Day. She had particular disdain for greeting cards. Here's some of her advice to you:

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.

Well, how did you do this Mother's Day? Would Jarvis be proud or would she have slapped you on the wrist with a white carnation?

Unfortunately, in the end things didn't work out so well for Jarvis. Her crusade against the commercial monster she created took a heavy toll on her, and, sadly, she ended up becoming a "recluse and a hoarder." Oh, no. No, she wasn't buried under a pile of fading greeting cards and rotting candy. Instead, she died in a sanitarium, which she was too poor to afford. What Jarvis never found out was that a group of grateful florists partially paid her asylum bill. Thus we can never know whether this fact would have changed her mind about the value of a bouquet.


The Founder of Mother's Day Later Fought to Have It Abolished [Mental Floss]

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