Newswise — Mary Baldwin College alumna Anna Jarvis was the driving force behind the creation of Mother's Day. But she would not be pleased at all with Mother's Day as it is celebrated in 2009, according to a source at her alma mater.
"Miss Jarvis thought Mother's Day should be a day you spend with your mother, or a day when you do something special for her like fix her dinner or repair her broken stairs," says William Pollard, archivist at Mary Baldwin College in Staunton, VA. "It was not supposed to be a day where you buy her something."
Jarvis, Pollard says, wanted to keep Mother's Day non-commercial--a battle she knew she had lost by the time of her death in 1948.
To understand how the day became nationally celebrated it's important to know a bit about Anna Jarvis. She was graduated from Augusta Female Seminary, which is now Mary Baldwin College, in 1883 and moved back home with her parents. In 1905, Anna's mother passed away. After her mother's death, Jarvis spent years sending letters to public officials urging them to set aside a day to honor mothers.
In 1914, that day came. President Woodrow Wilson, whose birthplace is just across the street from Mary Baldwin College, signed the proclamation formally establishing Mother's Day.
Over the years, however, Anna Jarvis became bitter with the commercialization of Mother's Day. MBC's Pollard points to several of her quotes on the subject.
"Mother's Day has nothing to do with candy," said Jarvis. "Candy is junk. You give your mother a box of candy and then go home and eat most of it yourself, or else you give her hard candy that breaks her teeth or dentures."
"Flowers are about half-dead by the time they're delivered," said Jarvis. "It's really a shame to waste flowers for Mother's Day. Florists have made millions of dollars out of my idea and they don't deserve it."