I see I’m getting some traffic from people Googling the history of Mothers’ Day, so here’s a link to the post I wrote last year about Anna Jarvis and the tragic story of the Mothers’ Day apostrophe: (Cliopatria readers, note the amusing exchange between Ralph Luker and my Mom, in comments.)
Jarvis and Howe organized Mothers’ Days, in the plural, as vehicles for organized social and political activity by mothers, not the private celebration of a mother’s services within the home. In the migration of the apostrophe one letter to the left–from Mothers’ Day to Mother’s Day–Coontz sees a declension both grammatical and political. After Anna Reeves Jarvis died in 1905, her daughter, also named Anna Jarvis, began lobbying for a special day for mothers. The idea caught on, but not in the way Jarvis had hoped… [read more]
Word seems to be getting out. My wife, daughter, and I just got back from the park, where we saw a Mothers’ Day rally for peace. A quartet of slightly dotty-looking ladies were leading the crowd in a little ditty to the tune of “Frère Jacques”:
What has happened, what has happened
To Mothers’ Day, to Mothers’ Day?
It used to be a protest, it used to be a protest
Change it back, change it back
“We Shall Overcome” it ain’t, but I went to college in the 1990s, so I’m just happy to hear any protest “song” that is more than another variation on, “Hey hey, ho ho, [eight syllable thing we're opposed to] has got to go.”
Happy Mothers’ Day.