Happy Mother’s Day! Get out your white carnations and head on over to your mum’s place of residence for a day of fun-filled appreciation (and maybe the occasional guilt trip). Or, if you’re like me and live half a continent from your mother, call, email, Skype, Facebook, blog, or snail mail that letter you’ve been meaning to write. Then, if you’re still being like me, google the origins of Mother’s Day to find out the where, when, and why for our celebration of half of the you-founding team. If, on the other hand, you’re not being like me, read on, because I’ll save you the typing, clicking, and reading of your search. In short, I present Mother’s Day modern-american style.
The holiday as we know it today has its origins back in 1905, when Ann Jarvis, peace-keeping pre-hippie of the Civil War, passed away, leaving behind a devastated grieving daughter named Anna. Anna reflected greatly upon the life of her mother and sought a way to memorialize her forever. She put on her battle gear and started on an epic quest to claim one day each year in the name of birth-giving mothers. By 1908 she had organized a day of celebration at the church of her departed mother, while another event occurred at an auditorium in Philadelphia. As a show of support for the Philladephia event, Jarvis sent a crap ton of white carnations, her mother’s favorite flower, to be worn as a sign of the pure love a mother has for her children.
Yet all of this wasn’t enough. Anna’s thirst for remembrance remained unquenched. She continued to write letters and got some pretty influential people to support her cause, including the floral industry. In 1914, Congress officially made the second sunday of May the designated day for Mother’s, and Jarvis was finally at peace. Or was she?
It wasn’t long before the evil, black-hearted floral industry expanded their influence on the holiday. They diversified their sales by offering bright colored carnations for living mothers as well as the white carnations for those mothers who had moved on to the next life. Soon, Mother’s Day specials popped up everywhere. Jarvis’s peace was shattered. She hated the commercialization, the bastardization, of her holiday. She didn’t see the need to buy things to honor a mother. Rather, she desired a visit or a handwritten letter; a personal touch on a personal day of thanks. She publicly cursed out the a-holes who sought to make a profit and began to campaign against the floral industry and anyone else who was misinformed about the true meaning of Mother’s Day. Basically, she kicked, screamed, bit, and spat her way to a mental asylum, because you can’t fight commercialism; it’s the American way. As a nice kick in the pants to Jarvis, some very gratified florists partially, and secretly, paid for her stay at the Asylum. The real ironic part of the story is that before she had succeeded in Congress, Jarvis was mocked for her efforts to create a holiday for mothers, because some people found the idea of a singular day to honor and appreciate their mom was absurd. “Every damn day should be mother’s day,” they cried. With the commercialization of her holiday, every day except the second sunday in May became Mother’s Day for Jarvis.
And that, my friends, is why the chicken crossed the fracking road. You can buy the Empire State Building for your mum if you want, but you still need to call, write, or at least think about her today. And then start looking forward to Papa’s day, which from googling that I find is in June.
Happy Mother’s Day Mom!