Some people believe Mother’s Day was created in the United States by a greeting-card company to sell sappy cards and get rid of surplus carnations. But the holiday actually has its roots in political activism. In 1870, if Wikipedia is to be believed, Julia Ward Howe wrote a Mother’s Day Proclamation “as a call for peace and disarmament” during the Civil War. That Mother’s Day never took off. Twenty-five years later, Anna Jarvis, grief-stricken after her mother’s death, vowed to establish a holiday to honor childbearers and worked tirelessly to that end (rumor has it that the two had a bitter fight and never made up before the elder Jarvis died). The younger Jarvis held the first unofficial Mother’s Day celebration at a church service honoring her mother. She passed out white carnations — her mother’s favorite flower. In 1908, a bill to make Mother’s Day a federal holiday went to the Senate; it was killed by a 33-14 vote. Finally, in 1914, President Woodrow Wilson signed a joint resolution establishing Mother’s Day as an official holiday, though the resolution emphasized women’s roles in the home, not in the political arena. Jarvis lived to see her promise fulfilled, but she died blind, penniless and, ironically, childless. She was buried next to her mother. Now doesn’t that make you want to call your mom, buy her something nice and say thanks? Here are two shops to check out, one for your mama, the other for your mama-to-be.—Linda Immediato
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