Good news for jewelers, card retailers, restaurants, and flower shops around the country: a major sales boom is just around the corner!
According to the National Restaurant Association, Mother’s Day is the most popular day for Americans to dine out, with nearly two in five American adults eating at restaurants that day. Mother's Day spending in the U.S. was estimated to reach a record high of $23.6 billion in 2017.
The National Retail Federation reports that 69% of shoppers planned to buy flowers and 56% planned to purchase special outings such as dinner or brunch, followed by gift cards (45%), clothing (37%), and jewelry (36%).
Clearly, the days of breakfast in bed are behind us.
Surely mothers—and caretakers, guardians, mentors, and other influential women— deserve a day in which they’re actively reminded of those who deeply love and appreciate them. They deserve to be celebrated.
But the ways in which we’ve chosen to celebrate, with Hallmark cards and (unethically sourced) diamonds, are not only hyper-commercialized and impersonal, but a far cry from the values underlying the origins of the day.
"The ways in which we’ve chosen to celebrate, with Hallmark cards and diamonds, are a far cry from the values underlying the origins of the day."
Mother’s Day was pioneered in the early 20th century by two peace activists, Julia Howe (author of the "Battle Hymn of the Republic") and Anna Jarvis. Independently of one another, both women crusaded for a day to honor mothers and their dedication to peace. This original intention is best captured in Howe’s “Mother’s Day Proclamation,” drafted in 1870:
"Arise, then, women of this day! Arise all women who have hearts, whether your baptism be of water or of tears! Say firmly: 'We will not have questions decided by irrelevant agencies. Our husbands shall not come to us reeking of carnage for caresses and applause. Our sons shall not be taken from us to unlearn all that we have been able to teach them of charity, mercy, and patience. We women of one country will be too tender to those of another country to allow our sons to be trained to injure theirs.'"
From the bosom of a devastated Earth a voice goes up with our own. It says "Disarm! Disarm!
Ultimately, Howe's and Jarvis' vision came to fruition in 1914, when President Woodrow Wilson declared Mother's Day a national holiday. Jarvis later became resentful of the commercialization of the holiday, believing that it had been misinterpreted and that the buying of gifts and pre-made cards took away from the true meaning of the day.
So what now? Am I saying that we abandon our Mother’s Day brunches for anti-war rallies? Not necessarily. But I would like to suggest that this Mother’s Day, we honor both the women in our lives and the original spirit of the day by focusing on the non-material—on taking responsibility for the welfare of our communities and our planet.
"I would like to suggest that this Mother’s Day, we honor both the women in our lives and the original spirit of the day by focusing on the non-material—on taking responsibility for the welfare of our communities and our planet."
As such, consider ways to personalize the way you choose to recognize someone this Mother’s Day, be it through a homemade card, time outdoors, a contribution to an organization she supports, or simply time spent together.
This Mother’s Day, my mom and I plan to participate in a 5k walk for breast cancer research, visit our local farmer’s market (where I may pick up some Mother’s Day flowers after all), and have lunch with my grandmother. Something tells me she won’t be missing that diamond necklace.