- History & Culture
How Mother’s Day became its founder’s worst nightmare
Here’s why we honor our moms on the second Sunday in May—and how the holiday turned into a retail juggernaut.
Mother’s Day is one of the year’s biggest greeting card occasions, but it definitely didn’t start out as a Hallmark holiday.
The Mother’s Day we celebrate on the second Sunday in May exists largely due to the incessant efforts—some might say maniacal single-mindedness—of a woman named Anna Jarvis. But Jarvis wasn’t the first American to promote the idea.
Early attempts to get the holiday going focused on bigger social issues, such as promoting peace and improving schools. But the version of the day that finally did catch on became its founder’s worst nightmare.
Mother’s Day was initially launched by antiwar activists in 1872. Julia Ward Howe, better remembered for writing "The Battle Hymn of the Republic," advocated a Mothers’ Peace Day on which