Happy Mother’s Day! May the barely warm toast and the grinds-floating-in-it coffee be the most delicious breakfast in bed you’ve ever tasted.
Here’s why that special meal, prepared with love, is really what this holiday is all about:
Mother’s Day in the United States dates back to 1908, when Anna Jarvis, the daughter of West Virginia activist Ann Reeves Jarvis, organized family gatherings in her hometown of Grafton, West Virginia and in Philadelphia, where she lived, and in several other cities, for children to honor their mothers.
Anna Jarvis was inspired by her own mother, an activist and pacifist who in the 1850s worked to improve sanitary conditions and lower infant mortality. During the Civil War, Ann Reeves Jarvis started a Mother’s Friendship Day for Union and Confederate loyalists across West Virginia. The groups also tended wounded soldiers from both sides. After the war, she organized Mother’s Friendship Day picnics and other events “as pacifist strategies to unite former foes,” according to National Geographic.
She spent the rest of her life battling the commercialization of the holiday. She organized boycotts, threatened lawsuits and staged protests. It was a battle she was destined to lose, despite spending her entire inheritance on the fight.
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