A large chunk of the world’s population celebrated Mother’s Day on Sunday, May 08, 2011. The legality of celebration of such days is a issue on which scholars differ and as such I will refrain to comment on it. What I do want to share is this article on the history of Mother’s Day in the US; this fascinated me as I have never read up on this before.
When Anna Jarvis’ mother died on the second Sunday of May in 1905, she was devastated. Mrs. Jarvis had devoted much of her adult life to educating other mothers about health and sanitation and in 1868 held the first Mother’s Friendship Day to unite families broken apart by the Civil War. Anna vowed to honor her mother’s memory by turning Mother’s Day into a national holiday.
Showing the same determination that marked her mother’s service work, the well-educated Anna dispatched a flotilla of letters to ministers and politicians around the country, eventually buying the house next door just to hold her correspondence. And in 1914, the pertinacious Miss Jarvis saw President Woodrow Wilson decree the second Sunday of every May the United States’ official Mother’s Day. (Babble.com)
The story of Anna Jarvis and her devotion to the memory of her mother is indeed heart-warming and touching. However, a few years after President Wilson decreed the holiday, it became apparent to Anna that she had created a Frankenstein. Marketing people and retailers decided Mother’s Day was just another way to sell their goods and the purpose of a day, to commemorate mothers’ health and welfare that Anna had rallied for, got hijacked to become a Hallmark Holiday.
Miss Jarvis’s idea of Mother’s Day allowed for no teddy bears or bouquets, no heart-shaped assorted confections, nothing at all that could be bought. She was particularly irked by those sons of the Roaring Twenties who thought it sufficient to hand the woman, who gave them life a greeting card, with a pre-printed sentiment. Miss Jarvis believed in writing a tenderhearted letter to mom, your own doggone self. But were she alive today, Miss Jarvis might really lose heart. Today, those same mothers would be lucky to get a heartfelt text: “thnkn of u ma!!” (Babble.com)
The National Restaurant Association certainly loves the holiday as they expected around 75 million Americans to dine out on this day. And of these around 19 percent expected to be eating more than one meal outside the house. Given that mothers are usually the ones doing most of the cooking around the house, this certainly makes sense. Give mom a break from her duty. And they are not the only ones cashing in on Mom’s “special” day. Bakers, spas, clothing stores, dry cleaners, you name it, they’ll have a Mother’s Day special.
Even here in Pakistan, the marketing blitz has caught up. On May 8th, as I was buying bread at a well established bakery in Karachi, they were doing roaring business selling cakes lettered with “I Love You Mom”. At a boutique, my wife managed to get a great 20% “Mother’s Day” discount on some clothes she wanted to buy. The plethora of television channels on TV had Mother’s Day themed programs. Did all this really make a difference in the difficult life most mothers live? I really don’t think so.
Anna Jarvis was so horrified at this commercial takeover of her beloved holiday that she set out to battle the monster she had created.
Jarvis spent her considerable inheritance and the rest of her life fighting the commercialization of “her” holiday. It was a losing battle. Anna Jarvis died in 1948, bitter, blind, partially deaf and completely penniless in a Pennsylvania mental institution. (Canada.com)
Mother’s Day may have been born from a noble intention but it did nothing to provide mothers the love and respect they deserve. We should, instead, celebrate every day the sacrifice our mothers made for us, every minute that she carried us in her womb. We should feel daily the love she showed and continues to show every day of our lives. We should remember daily, the sleepless nights she spent when we were sick, pressing cold compresses to our heads. We should cherish daily, the scrumptious meals she made for us daily to ensure we had the right nutrition as we were growing up. We should honor our mothers daily.
The Prophet (SAW) was asked: “Who among the people is most deserving of my good company?” The Prophet (SAW) replied: “Your mother” three times before saying “Your father”. (Narrated by Bukhari & Muslim)