The founder of Mother’s Day, Anna Jarvis, invented the holiday to honor her mother’s work ethic and strength. Then she spent the rest of her life rebelling against it.
Jarvis spent the early 1900s lobbying various state and federal officials to proclaim the second Sunday of May (which marked the anniversary of her mother’s death) an official celebration of motherhood. The US Congress approved Mother’s Day as an official holiday in 1914. Afterwards, Jarvis felt it became too commercialized, benefiting not hard-working mothers, but rather floral, candy, and greeting-card companies. “I want to tell you that you are using a beautiful idea as a means of profiteering,” she said upon crashing the Associated Retail Confectioners convention in Philadelphia in 1923.
She’d be shocked to see the extent to which the day has become commercialized in the United States.
The 84% of Americans who celebrate the holiday are expected to spend a record $25 billion on Mother’s Day gifts this year, up from $23.1 billion in 2018, according to the National Retail Federation (NRF). That’s the highest amount in the 16-year history of the survey, which is conducted by NRF and Prosper Insights & Analytics.
Individuals who plan to celebrate Mother’s Day will spend an average of $196 each on greeting cards, flowers, special outings, and more, compared to $180 in 2018. The amount Americans spend on the holiday has gone up over the years, and this year’s bump can be partly explained by the strength of the US economy.