Anna Jarvis spent years crusading to establish Mother’s Day, and her vision first became a reality in West Virginia.
The first service was at Grafton’s Andrews Methodist Episcopal Church in 1908, and she sent 500 white carnations to honor her late mother Ann.
Congress made it a national holiday after a letter-writing campaign targeting officials and notables from Teddy Roosevelt to Mark Twain.
In 1914, President Woodrow Wilson officially established the second Sunday in May as Mother’s Day.
Today it is celebrated internationally, and Americans spent an estimated $21.4 billion last year on Mother’s Day gifts.
Flowers, candy and cards definitely weren’t part of her original vision.
By 1920, she’d begun denouncing the holiday.
She came to hate the holiday’s commercialization and spent years fighting its exploitation by businesses and even nonprofit groups.
A white carnations fundraiser by the American War Mothers was a breaking point. She reportedly was charged with disturbing the peace after crashing the event.
Her golden years were anything but happy.
Much of her personal finances were spent filing lawsuits against groups using the name “Mother’s Day.”
She even returned to lobbying officials, but this time asking them to remove the holiday from the national calendar.
Things continued to get worse until her death in 1948.
Fighting the commercial tide was impossible, and she spent the last four years of her life in a sanitarium, blind and penniless.