WASHINGTON — While Mother's Day is an integral part of American culture, few may know how the national holiday started — and why the woman who made it happen ended up regretting it.
Consumers this year are projected to spend a record $35.7 billion on Mother's Day this year, according to a survey by the National Retail Federation and Prosper Insights and Analytics. The group said flowers, greeting cards and special outings were the most frequently-purchased gift categories.
When is Mother's Day?
This year, Mother's Day is celebrated in the U.S. on Sunday, May 14, 2023.
Is Mother's Day the same day every year?
No, the date for Mother's Day changes from year to year because it's always on the second Sunday in May.
How did Mother's Day start?
According to the Library of Congress and other sources, Anna Jarvis is credited with the campaign that led to a nationally-celebrated Mother’s Day. Jarvis's mother was known for organizing women's groups to promote health and friendship.
In the wake of her mother's death in 1905, Jarvis wanted to set aside a day to honor the sacrifices of mothers for their children. In May 1908, she organized the first official Mother’s Day celebration at a Methodist church in Grafton, West Virginia, according to history.com. Since then, the church has been dubbed "The International Mother's Day Shrine."
As the annual celebration gained traction, West Virginia passed a law designating the holiday in 1910 and other states followed suit. In 1914, President Woodrow Wilson made it a national holiday to be observed on the second Sunday in May.
While Jarvis succeeded in making the national holiday a reality, she would soon come to hate it.
Around 1920, Jarvis started to denounce the commercialization of the day and urged people to stop buying Mother’s Day flowers, cards and candies, History.com reports. During her campaign to stop profiteers, reports state she filed lawsuits against groups that used the name "Mother's Day."
Before she died in 1948, Jarvis is said to have disowned the holiday and had actively lobbied the government to take it off the calendar as a national holiday in America.
Although it's a profitable day for retailers, phone companies, and florists, the spirit of celebrating moms on Mother's Day is still what Jarvis intended.
WHAS11 contributed to this report, which was originally published Apr. 28, 2023.