Every year in May, children and fathers rush around trying to give mom a few special memories celebrating the gift of motherhood. Mother’s Day is one of the most celebrated holidays in the United States, but at the heart of the holiday is Anna Jarvis – the childless women’s advocate who started it all.
Where mother’s day started
Anna Jarvis was born in a tiny town in West Virginia. She lived out her formidable years in Grafton, West Virginia before attending Mary Baldwin College. Her mother created the first inclination of what we know today as Mother’s Day. The Mother’s Day Work Club was a group that advocated for clean work conditions and offered basic medical care for Union and Confederate soldiers.
In 1907, Anna Jarvis’s mother passed away and Jarvis set out to make Mother’s Day a nationally recognized holiday. It took seven years for the idea to catch on. The US was taken by storm and retail businesses grabbed the idea and ran with it. By 1920, Anna Jarvis was angry about the turn Mother’s Day had taken. She was once quoted as saying printed Mother’s Day cards were only given by lazy girls who didn’t want to take the time to write a letter or note to the women who mattered most in life.
The irony of the mother’s day tale
Anna Jarvis never married and she remained childless until her death. The one thing she wanted most, a day to celebrate mothers, was something she never experienced. By the latter years of her life, she was threatening floral associations with lawsuit for selling flowers and making a profit from the holiday. She was admitted to the Marshall Square Sanitarium for hoarding and recluse behavior. She died in the sanitarium in 1948. A group of florists paid for her funeral and asylum expenses. Jarvis never knew the florists were paying for a portion of her medical bills.