Yesterday was an eye-opening Mother’s Day for me, since I learned the origins of said holiday.
Apparently, it was an early lesson for socialists everywhere: You don’t always get what you want, especially when you try shoving your dreams down everyone’s throats socialist style.
According to one Yahoo article, Anna Jarvis unofficially established Mother’s Day in 1906 in recognition of her own mother, public-health activist Ann Maria Reeves Jarvis. That was the one-year anniversary of her mom’s death, and the younger Jarvis held a memorial service.
She did the same thing the following year. And in 1908, she extended the gathering from family and friends to a much more extensive event involving 1,500 people in Philadelphia.
Following that, Jarvis got kinda crazy, determining that absolutely everyone should recognize their mother one specific day of the year. She started petitioning local and state governments to pass a law on the matter, and calling magazines and newspapers to support her idea. Seven years after her mother’s passing, Jarvis quit her job to found the Mother’s Day International Association, with the stated goal of making Mother’s Day nationally recognized.
For real. She quit her job for this. Can anyone say “codependent relationship?” And with a dead person too. I’m pretty sure that takes her from “kinda crazy” to “kinda creepy.”
Bates Motel, anyone?
In 1914, President Woodrow Wilson gave in to the crazy, creepy lady and put her idea into law. Jarvis declared a monumental victory, celebrating how it would become “a great Home Day of our country for sons and daughters to honor their mothers and fathers and homes in a way that will perpetuate family ties and give emphasis to true home life.”
Instead, what happened is that Mother’s Day went commercial. And Jarvis freaked out. Again.
Disgusted with the marketing ploys her idea inspired, she once ordered a “Mother’s Day salad” on said holiday only to dump it on the floor and storm out of the restaurant. Yahoo continues:
“In 1923, Jarvis crashed a candy confectioner’s conference, staging a protest, and two years later, she ambushed a convention hosted by the American War Mothers (a patriotic group that supports veterans) because it used ‘Mother’s Day’ as part of its fundraising efforts. She was arrested on charges of disturbing the peace. Jarvis also routinely rallied against Eleanor Roosevelt, who supported certain charities that Jarvis believed capitalized on her holiday. And she compared Frances Perkins, the first female secretary of labor, to Mussolini after discovering that Perkins supported a women’s health clinic that used Mother’s Day in its advertising campaign.
“… Jarvis continued fighting for the abolishment of Mother’s Day until she died penniless in 1948 at the age of 84 at Philadelphia’s Marshall Square Sanitarium, a now-closed mental asylum, where she lived out the last four years of her lie.”
Two lessons she should have – and apparently didn’t – learn out of all of this:
1. Getting the government involved to coerce people into behaving a certain way (i.e. socialism) very rarely if ever works out as planned.
2. Mothers are way too important to have a single holiday to themselves. We should be recognizing their efforts all the time. Duh!