This Sunday is Mother’s Day. The annual holiday recognizing mothers, motherhood and the relationship between a mother and her children. The tradition of honoring mothers dates back to the ancient Greeks and can be found throughout history.
A special day for mother’s in the U.S. was first proposed in 1870 to commemorate mother’s who had lost sons in the Civil War but it wasn’t until 1914 when President Woodrow Wilson declared the second Sunday of May as the first national Mother’s Day that the holiday took off. The idea came from one Anna Jarvis who in 1912 trademarked the phrases “second Sunday in May” and “Mother’s Day” and founded the Mother’s Day International Association. Jarvis however was quite specific about how it was to be spelled. Note that it is Mother’s Day not Mothers’ Day. The location of the apostrophe before the s rather than after, makes the word a singular possessive, meaning that individuals should honor their own mother and making the holiday more personal. It was never intended as a plural possessive which would have meant honoring mothers everywhere.
This has long been a topic of contention around our house. I have always teased my wife that she is not my mother. Yes, she is the mother of my children and they should honor her on Mother’s Day, I on the other hand should honor my mother and my wife hers. That is how the concept of mother’s day was originally conceived. I must confess, I didn’t know this until recently. All those years I bickered with my wife about it simply for the sake of argument, now I find out I was right all along, Mother’s Day is a day to honor your mother, not your wife or daughter who may also be mother’s, but your biological mother. I have no problem honoring mother’s in general, and buy my lovely wife a card every year, but I still believe it is a day for honoring your own mother.
Within nine years after that first Mother’s Day the holiday had become so commercialized that Anna Jarvis herself became a major opponent of what the holiday had become and spent all her inheritance and the rest of her life fighting what she saw as an abuse of the celebration. She was arrested for disturbing the peace in 1948 while protesting against the commercialization of Mother’s Day. She was quoted as saying that she “wished she would have never started the day because it became so out of control …”.
Of course we all know who was behind the commercialization of M.D., why merchants and retailers of course, who saw an opportunity to milk the holiday for all it was worth. Over the years they’ve managed to move the apostrophe so that Mother’s Day means honoring all mothers and anything to do with motherhood. With their catchy phrases and advertisements that tap into consumers emotions, they’ve created a phenomenal cash cow. My favorites this year are the Sears “Make Mother’s Day Memorable” ads and one I heard on the radio laced with soft music which ends with “This Mother’s Day surprise your wife with diamonds, she’s worth it.” Nice…
Mother’s Day has become one of the most commercially successful holidays in the U.S. generating nearly $16 billion last year. Here’s the break down: $3.0 billion on special dinners or brunch, $2.0 billion on flowers, $1.6 billion on gift cards/gift certificates, $1.4 on clothing and accessories, $1.2 billion on electronics like digital cameras, digital photo frames and video cameras, $1.1 billion on personal service gifts like a trip to a favorite spa or salon, $696 million on house wares and gardening tools, and $672 million on greeting cards. Jewelery sales for Mother’s Day alone account for 8% of total annual jewelry sales. All for the love of mom.
This Mother’s Day, you don’t really need to spend a lot on lavish gifts for mom, a visit, letter or phone call, letting her know how much you love and care, goes a long way. That’s what it’s really all about.
Happy Mother’s Day! Have a tremendous Day!