NEXSTAR (NEXSTAR) – Perhaps no one despised the more modern Mother’s Day traditions as much as the woman who invented them.
Anna Jarvis, who successfully campaigned to establish a national Mother’s Day in the early twentieth century, became so horrified by the holiday’s commercialization that she attempted to have it canceled entirely.
According to an article published in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch on Mother’s Day in 1944, Jarvis once said, “Mother’s Day is being desecrated.” “The telegraph companies with their ready-made greetings, the florists with their high-pressure campaigns and exorbitant prices, and the candy and greeting card manufacturers have made a fortune off my ideas.”
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Jarvis originally envisioned Mother’s Day as a nationwide day of remembrance and togetherness, to be observed with visits (if possible) and symbolized by her own mother’s favorite flower: a white carnation. But, after organizing the first official Mother’s Day observance in 1908 and successfully campaigning to have it recognized on a national level in the following years, she became dissatisfied with how the holiday had evolved across the country.
Jarvis disliked greeting cards, calling them a “poor excuse for letters” preferred by “lazy people,” and she thought candy was a meaningless gesture because “someone other than the mother usually eats it.”
According to the Post-Dispatch article, Jarvis even traveled to Washington, D.C., in 1935, to criticize the postmaster general for the release of commemorative Mother’s Day stamps, calling it “sheer commercialization.”
By 1943, however, Jarvis had had enough of the candy and cards. She started a petition to have Mother’s Day abolished entirely, but her efforts were cut short when she “wandered into Philadelphia General Hospital,” where workers noticed she was emaciated and nearly blind, according to the Post-Dispatch. She was admitted to the Marshall Square Sanitarium in Westchester, where she died in 1948 at the age of 84.
Jarvis had no money when she entered the sanitarium, having never profited from Mother’s Day. However, executives from the greeting card and floral industries paid her bills.