Mother’s Day Reflections

Sure, it’s a Hallmark Holiday – even the founder of Mother’s Day came out against the celebration because of its over-commercialization.  Still, ask just about any Mom and you’ll find a soft spot for her special day.  Not the gifts but the moment in the sun.

Mother’s Day actually started as an initiative of the women’s peace groups in the 1860’s and 70’s.  Ann Jarvis of West Virginia established a committee to focus on “Mother’s Friendship Day” and the challenge “to reunite families that had been divided during the Civil War.”  Julia Ward Howe took up the cause when she led a Mother’s Day anti-war observance in 1872 in New York.  Howe stuck with the Mother’s Day bandwagon for ten years in Boston.

In years to follow Mother’s Day observances emerged in other communities and was picked up by the temperance movement.  Interesting to note, the first public call for “a national day to honor our mothers” came in 1904 from the President of the Fraternal Order of Eagles.

Enter another male supporter, John Wannamaker, of the famed Philadelphia department store.  Wannamaker, working with Anna Jarvis, daughter of the originator of the idea, saw the possibilities.  The drive to establish Mother’s Day as a national holiday was on.  The holiday was declared officially by West Virginia in 1910 and the rest of the states soon thereafter.  On May 8, 1914 President Woodrow Wilson issued a proclamation declaring the first national Mother’s Day as a day for American citizens to show the flag in honor those mothers who sons had died in war

Though speaking against something as sacred as Mother’s Day is treading on dangerous ground, Anna Jarvis herself spoke out against the commercialization of the day and lamented that the prevalence of greeting cards was a way for offspring to avoid writing a personal note….No protests have been forthcoming from the greeting card or florist industries.

Once again, the U.S. Census Bureau has risen to the occasion by digging into their wealth of newly-minted data based on the 2010 Census.  Who knew there were nearly 90,000 employees engaged in the floral industry.  California is the leader exporter of cut flowers with flower production of $269 million.  Meanwhile, nearly 12,000 employees work in the 107 greeting card publishing establishments and 14,000 cosmetics, beauty supply and perfume stores serve the nation (though I have read that cosmetics are not the best choice of gift – the gift suggests need for improvement on that front.

As for moms the Census Bureau overflows with data. Lots of working moms (57%), 5.1 million stay-at-home moms, a growing number of single moms (1.5 million), 4 million new moms ages 15-44,  and 75,000 child care centers employing 884,235 – and more numbers than any non-statistician could absorb in a lifetime.

If your Mom is into data you will find a prodigious supply – with commentary – on the Census Bureau website.  Don’t laugh, access to good data collected, organized and made accessible by the government makes a serious difference in our economy, schools, planning and development at every level.  Some of us get into that stuff!

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