Has Mother’s Day Lost Its Meaning?


In 1914 Congress set aside the second Sunday in May to celebrate motherhood. But how did Mother’s Day get started? And what has it become?

Anna Jarvis is credited with making Mother’s Day a recognized holiday. In May of 1907 she held a memorial service for her mother and the idea for setting aside the second Sunday in May as a day to celebrate all mothers was born. She campaigned tirelessly to make Mother’s Day an official holiday and in 1914, Congress recognized it as such. Ironically, by 1920 Anna Jarvis was disgusted with the commercialization of Mother’s Day and actively campaigned against it. She is credited with saying, “A printed card means nothing except that you are too lazy to write to the woman who has done more for you than anyone in the world.”

Mother’s Day Is Big Business

Anna Jarvis would hardly recognize what her holiday has become. The printed card she referred to has become a boon to greeting card companies, which will sell upwards of 144 million Mother’s Day cards this year. And those cards go to all sorts of mothers; biological mothers, birth mothers, adoptive mothers, step mothers, grandmothers, aunts, foster mothers, like a mother and so forth. Virtually any woman who has a role in mothering a child is eligible for a Mother’s Day card. According to Cheryl Saban in her article, “Mother’s Day – It’s A Girl Thing,” in the April 28, 2009 issue of The Huffington Post, “80 percent of us will buy a card for mom this Mother’s Day.”

  • The greeting card companies aren’t the only ones profiting from Mother’s Day. It is the #1 day of the year for long distance phone calls, boasting more volume than Christmas.
  • Many mothers are wined and dined on their special day making Mother’s Day the busiest day of the year for restaurants.
  • Florists will make over a quarter of their yearly volume in sales of Mother’s Day bouquets.
  • Jewelry is also a popular choice for Mother’s Day gifts and over two billion dollars will be spent on jewelry this Mother’s Day.

Thinking Outside the Gift Box

There is a school of thought that since people are buying cards and gifts for Mom for Mother’s Day, why not purchase those that help make a difference. For example, this Mother’s Day,folks can purchase a greeting card that helps fight breast cancer, roses that help save the environment and numerous gifts that help women around the world climb out of poverty and take back their lives.

But many mothers still prefer the old standbys: breakfast in bed prepared lovingly by their children, homemade cards and other gifts that are low on cost but big on love.