is about expressing how much you appreciate everything your mom does, and what better way to do that than with a heartfelt Mother's Day card, a bouquet of flowers and a special dinner at her favorite restaurant? But if that's your go-to way for celebrating Mother's Day, Anna Jarvis — the creator of the holiday — wouldn't be too fond of it.
Social activist Anna Jarvis (1864-1948) worked hard to establish Mother's Day after her mother, Ann Reeves Jarvis, passed away. The idea for the special day was originally Ann's, which she expressed in a prayer while teaching a Sunday school class in May 1876:
"I hope and pray that someone, sometime, will found a memorial mother's day commemorating her for the matchless service she renders to humanity in every field of life. She is entitled to it."
Distraught after her mother's passing in 1905, Anna's goal was to fulfill her mom's wish, and the idea for Mother's Day was born. Three years later, Anna organized the first-ever Mother's Day events at the school in West Virginia where her mom had been a teacher. Anna had also tirelessly led a letter-writing campaign asking anyone who would listen to support Mother's Day. Her efforts ultimately paid off in 1914, when Woodrow Wilson made Mother's Day a national holiday, to be recognized on the second Sunday in May.
While Anna did what she could to "own" the holiday (she copyrighted her own photos, trademarked "Mother's Day," and created an official Mother's Day seal), it didn't take long before greeting card companies, florists and other vendors began figuring out ways to make money off of it. Wanting to protect the original intent of the holiday, Anna spent years suing companies who made profits from Mother's Day. She even spoke out against charities who used the holiday for fundraising.
Despite her best efforts, Anna ultimately lost control over the holiday she helped create and she grew to despise the commercialism attached to it. So much so, that she told a Reader's Digest reporter she was "" Near the end of her life, Anna even tried to abolish Mother's Day, going door to door asking for signatures to repeal the national holiday she had worked so hard to attain.