For Mother’s Day 2018, people will spend a total of $23 billion celebrating mom on her special day, an average of $180 per mother.
Anna Jarvis, the holiday’s founder, admitted she had some regrets about starting Mother’s Day.
Before her death, Jarvis’ mother Ann Reeves Jarvis hoped someone would dedicate a special day in honor of mothers. When she died on May 9, 1905, her daughter decided she would do just that. She began campaigning not only for her own mother but for all mothers everywhere.
Jarvis began in her hometown, Grafton, West Virginia, which hosted the first official Mother’s Day celebration in 1908 at Andrews Methodist Episcopal Church. Ever since, the church has become known as the “International Mother’s Day Shrine.”
In 1914, President Woodrow Wilson signed an executive order recognizing Mother’s Day as a national holiday.
There’s a reason it is called ”Mother’s” Day, singular. Jarvis was very intentional about the name of the holiday. It’s Mother’s Day, as in one mother. Jarvis demanded that Mother’s Day be:
“… a day to honor the best mother who ever lived, yours.”
But, Mother’s Day became way more popular than she expected. So, Jarvis disavowed her own holiday. She didn’t like the idea of people spending so much money on flowers, cards and chocolates. She went after florists first, protesting the marketing of the extravagant bouquets. Her protests escalated to arrests for public disturbances. Jarvis:
“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. And candy! You take a box to Mother—and then eat most of it yourself. A pretty sentiment.”
Jarvis took First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt to task for using Mother’s Day as a way to promote the health and social welfare of women and children. Jarvis’ mother was a community health advocate, yet, Jarvis still didn’t like the association.
The commercialization of the holiday made her cray-cray, and in 1943, as she she began organizing a petition to rescind Mother’s Day, her efforts were halted when she was placed in a sanitarium. The floral and greeting card industries paid to keep her in the sanitarium. Jarvis died there in 1948. She was buried next to her mother.
In our own era, children purchase more flowers and plants for Mother’s Day than for any other holiday except Christmas/Hanukkah. But, the most money spent on mothers is spent on jewelry: $4.6 billion.