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Day's mother didn't approve

A century ago, Anna Jarvis devised a tribute to her mom and those everywhere. This isn't what she had in mind.

May 11, 2008|From the Associated Press

GRAFTON, W.VA. — On this 100th anniversary of Mother's Day, the woman credited with creating one of the world's most celebrated holidays would almost certainly not be pleased with all the flowers, candy or gifts.

Anna Jarvis would probably want us to give mothers a white carnation to signify the purity of a mother's love.

Jarvis, who never married and never had children, got the Mother's Day idea after her mother said it would be nice if someone created a memorial to mothers.

Three years after her mother died in 1905, she organized the first official Mother's Day service at the church where her mother had spent more than 20 years teaching Sunday school.

The former Andrews Methodist Episcopal Church is now officially a shrine to mothers around the world, and the anniversary will be celebrated there today as well as at the Anna Jarvis Birth- place Museum in nearby Webster.

West Virginia became the first state to recognize Mother's Day, in 1910.

President Wilson approved a resolution in 1914 marking the second Sunday in May a nationwide observance.

Mother's Day is now celebrated on the second Sunday in May in 52 countries.

"Everyone has a mother," said Sally Thayer, a trustee of the International Mother's Day Shrine in Grafton.

"It's a wonderful thing to celebrate."

Jarvis herself, however, became increasingly disturbed as the celebration turned into a reason to sell greeting cards and other items; she became known for berating people who purchased cards, saying they were too lazy to write personal letters "to the woman who has done more for you than anyone in the world."

Before she died in 1948, she protested at a Mother's Day celebration in New York and was arrested for disturbing the peace.

Cindi Mason, director of the shrine in Grafton, said that Jarvis "wished she would have never started the day because it became so out of control."

The National Retail Federation estimates that Americans will spend $15 billion this year honoring their mothers. Dining out is expected to be the No. 1 expense.

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