Anna Jarvis Had It Right

Think Mother’s Day has become too commercial? Think the greeting card companies control too much? Think the florists and chocolatiers have become more important than the real meaning of the day?

The founder of the modern Mother’s Day agreed with you.

annajarvisI’ve previously blogged about the first Mother’s Day, and how it was conceived as a day to advocate for peace.

A generation later, the Mother’s Day we celebrate was founded by a good Methodist woman named Anna Jarvis. However, Jarvis saw the day as far more than a commercial holiday. And years after she’d achieved her dream of a day to honor all Mothers, she got the sense that she’d created a commercialistic Frankenstein.


In a 1924 news story, she decried what her dream holiday had become…


“Commercialization of Mother’s Day is growing every year…Since the movement has spread to all parts of the world, many things have tried to attach themselves because of its success.”

“The white carnation is the emblem of Mother’s Day because it typifies the beauty, truth and fidelity of mother-love. This emblem is used on the Mother’s Day association printed matter and official buttons.
“But it does not mean that people should wear a white carnation. This false idea has led to florist flagrantly boosting the price of white carnations for the Mother’s Day trade.”

“The red carnation has no connection with Mother’s Day. Yet florists have spread the idea that it should be worn for mother who has passed away. This has boosted the sale of red carnations.”

“Confectioners put a white ribbon on a box of candy and advance the price just because it’s Mother’s Day,” she charges. “There is no connection between candy and this day. It is pure commercialization.”

“The sending of a wire is not sufficient. Write a letter to your mother. No person is too busy to do this. Any mother would rather have a line of the worst scribble from her son or daughter than any fancy greeting card or telegram.”

“This is the wrong spirit,” declares Miss Jarvis.

“Mother’s Day is a day of sentiment —not sentimentality”


Many thanks to Huffington Post for a great original story on this.


Like Christmas, Easter, or any other holiday where the heart of the matter is supposed to be love, just remember the heart.

And don’t get caught up in the commerce.

Anna Jarvis, more than I realized until now, had it right.

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Eric Folkerth is a minister, musician, author and blogger. He is Senior Pastor of Kessler Park UMC United Methodist Church in Dallas, Texas. Previously, he was pastor at Northaven UMC in Dallas for seventeen years. Eric loves to write on topics of spirituality, social justice, music/art and politics. The entries on this blog reflect that diversity of interests. His passion for social justice goes beyond mere words. He’s been arrested at the White House, defending immigrants and “The Dreamers,” and he’s officiated at same sex weddings in his churches, in defiance of what some believe is Methodist teaching. Eric is an avid blogger and published author, and 2017 recipient of the prestigeous Kuchling Humanitarian Award from Dallas’ Black Tie Dinner. (Human Rights Campaign) Eric has led or co-led hundreds of persons on mission trips around the globe, to places such as Mexico, Haiti, Russia, and Nepal. He has worked with lay persons to build ten homes, and one Community Center, in partnership with Habitat for Humanity of Dallas. He’s a popular preacher, and often tackles challenging issues of social justice in his writings and sermons. His wife, Judge Dennise Garcia, is a State District Judge for Dallas, County. As judge of the 303rd Family District Court, she consistently gets high ratings from area lawyers, and was named “best judge” by The Dallas Observer. First elected in 2004, she was the first Latina ever elected to a county-wide bench in Dallas County, and is currently the longest service district judge in that district. She was re-elected for a fourth term in 2018. They have the world’s best daughter, Maria, and an incredible dog, Daisy. Find links to Eric’s music-related websites, at the top of this site’s navigation menu.

2 thoughts on “Anna Jarvis Had It Right

  1. Mother’s Day became the single biggest sale day for flowers. When Anna Jarvis was penniless and in a nursing home, her bills were paid by the Florists Association. She didn’t know this.:)

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