Mother's Day seems harmless enough. Treat mom to brunch. Buy flowers. Good times.
But the story of the modern holiday—which is celebrated this Sunday in the United States and many other nations—is rife with controversy, conflict, and consumerism run amok. Some strange-but-true facts you probably don't know:
1. Mother’s Day started as an anti-war movement.
Anna Jarvis is most often credited with founding Mother's Day in the United States.
Designated as the second Sunday in May by President Woodrow Wilson in 1914, aspects of that holiday have since spread overseas, sometimes mingling with local traditions. Jarvis took great pains to acquire and defend her role as “Mother of Mother's Day,” and to focus the day on children celebrating their mothers. (Read more about Mother's Day's early years.)
But others had the idea first, and with different agendas.
Julia Ward Howe, better known for writing "The Battle Hymn of the Republic," promoted a Mothers’ Peace Day beginning in 1872. For Howe and other antiwar activists, including Anna Jarvis's mother, Mother's Day was a way to promote global unity after the horrors of the American Civil War and Europe’s Franco-Prussian War.