Tuesday, May 17, 2011
Hope you remembered to buy some flowers for your mother or at least gave her a call! Mother's Day is the official day to spoil your mom, other than her birthday. If you are like most people, you went out and bought a nice Hallmark card and maybe bought your mom some flowers, or if you live far away you decided that you would give her a call and tell her how much she means to you. Come on people! She gave birth to you! She deserves a little attention! Mother's Day is another one of those holidays that is sort of stuck in limbo, so to speak. It's not Christmas, but it's not a dumb holiday like Missing Sock Memorial Day (May 9th. No, I didn't make it up). It's a holiday that is easy to forget, but you better not, or someone might be a little angry. So how exactly did we come to celebrate Mother's Day?
Celebrations attributed to mothers first began with the Roman celebration of Hilaria, which celebrates Cybele, a being similar to Gaia (the goddess of the earth that Captain Planet was always going on about). A celebration of a being that is "mother of all," is prevalent through ancient societies, however these are not directly connected to our modern Mother's Day.
Our own celebration of mothers, non-deity mothers that is, began shortly after the Civil War. In 1870, Julie Ward Howe wrote the "Mother's Day Proclamation," a pacifist reaction to the carnage of the Civil War and the Franco-Prussian War. Besides advocating a day for mothers, it was also tied to Howe's feminist vision that women had a responsibility to shape their societies at the political level. In the years after the Mother's Day Proclamation, Ann Jarvis started five Mother's Day Work Clubs who sought to improve sanitary and health conditions. So Mother's Day basically started as a day to improve women's lives and put them into the forefront. The day became synonymous with the feminist and women's rights movement. After Ann Jarvis' death in 1917, her daughter, Anna Jarvis started a campaign to make Mother's Day an official holiday in the U.S. She achieved her dream in 1914. Little did she know that she had created a monster.
By the 1920's Anna noticed that something was wrong with Mother's Day. It was already terribly commercialized. People went out and bought cards instead of writing their own letters, something Anna considered extremely lazy. The holiday became one of buying things and less about mothers very quickly. Anna became extremely distressed by the level of commercialism attributed to the holiday and spent the rest of her life advocating against the holiday she created. Before her death she wished that she had never even created the day.
Today, Mother's Day is one of the most commercially successful holidays in the U.S. It is now the most popular day to go out to a restaurant. In this way, one could make the argument that along with buying a card, taking a mom to a restaurant is pure laziness and instead you could make her a meal and write her a card. Both show that you are taking time to treat your mother, but what means more to her? This goes against how we Americans think in many ways, but perhaps it is time for us to cast off some of the commercialism that goes into this holiday and do something original for our moms. Make her a meal, write a card, write a poem, take her to a park, or just do something special. Let's put this into perspective:
For Mother's Day, American's spend:
-$2.6 billion on flowers.
-$1.53 billion on gifts like a day at a spa.
-$68 million on greeting cards.
One further statistic is that Mother's Day amounts for almost 8 percent of jewelry store's annual revenue.
Some make the argument that Mother's Day would not have lasted had businesses not promoted it so much. Though it may be true, it's awfully sad that we as a society cannot take a day out of the year to truly spend time with our mothers instead of spending our money on things that perhaps our mother's don't need.