ST. GEORGE – This Sunday marks the 100th year since Mother’s Day became an official holiday in America – a holiday often associated with flowers, jewels, candies and, of course, greeting cards.
In commemoration of the centennial of Mother’s Day, the St. George News team hit the streets to find out what local mothers really want on their dedicated day. Take note, husbands and kids – their answers may surprise you.
But, first, a brief history.
The roots of Mother’s Day go back to the 1850s, when – according to a recent National Geographic article – a woman named Ann Reeves Jarvis began organizing Mother’s Day work clubs, which were designed to help improve sanitary conditions and reduce infant mortality that was occurring due to disease and contaminated milk. During the Civil War, these clubs also took care of wounded soldiers from both armies.
(story continues below)
Video by Samantha Tommer, St. George News
After the war, Jarvis and other women began organizing friendship picnics designed to get women to take an “active political role in promoting peace,” according to the same National Geographic story.
It was Jarvis’ daughter Anna Jarvis who organized the first Mother’s Day celebration in 1908, after the 1905 passing of her own mother. It was designed as an intimate holiday for spending time with your own mother and to express – as a son or daughter – your appreciation to her. This is why it is Mother’s Day in the singular instead of Mothers’ Day, plural – the focus was not celebrating all mothers collectively but for people to celebrate their own mothers individually.
After being declared an official holiday by President Woodrow Wilson in 1914, Mother’s Day quickly became a commercialized affair, shrouded with the buying and selling of gifts – a fact that Anna Jarvis fought against for the remainder of her life.
The holiday, which is now celebrated each year on the second Sunday in May, soon became known for the purchasing of flowers, candy and gift cards. The first Mother’s Day cards from Hallmark were sold in the early 1920s.
Though Mother’s Day has become a commercial boon for merchants, the answers St. George News received from local mothers, when asked what they really wanted for Mother’s Day, tended toward the sentimental rather than the commercial. Maybe Anna Jarvis is smiling in her grave.
Marlee Montano, of Santa Clara, who is a single mother of one, said she wants more than anything to get married to her boyfriend.
“That would be the best Mother’s Day present ever,” Montano said.
“I try not to look at the holiday as a giving holiday as far as presents and stuff,” she said. “I just want to know my family is together. Mother’s Day is hard when you don’t have a set family.”
Irene Nielson, a mother of four children ranging in ages from 5 to 15, said she just wants peace in her home.
“I would love, love, love a day of peace,” Nielson said. “I don’t need breakfast in bed; I just want a day where my kids are doing what they are supposed to and getting along.”
For Morgan Byrd, of Hurricane, and Bethany Wyatt, of LaVerkin, the question posed by St. George News brought to mind their own mothers, who have passed away. This Mother’s Day, Byrd and Wyatt desire most of all to be with their own mothers again.
“I can’t talk about it without crying,” Wyatt said.
All of the responders St. George News approached said they loved and cherished anything their children made for them, from macaroni necklaces to tissue paper flowers.
Though the gift requests from local mothers were largely sentimental, some responses did favor the commercial side of things. One mother said she wanted a can opener for Mother’s Day; others mentioned gifts like books, shoes, plane tickets and flowers – with flowers in a vase being more popular than flowers that can be planted.
- Invitation: Send us your best ‘Mom story’
- Free2Feed new nonprofit aims at building confidence in breastfeeding mothers
Copyright St. George News, SaintGeorgeUtah.com LLC, 2014, all rights reserved.