Capitalism 101—a principle: Start something having to do with God or the transforming of society and the business sector will find a way to domesticate and romanticize it and thereby turn it into another way to make money.
Case Study: Mother’s Day
The seeds of the holiday we call Mother’s Day were sown by women’s peace groups who wanted to honor the mothers who had lost sons in the Civil War. These groups were composed of mother’s of sons who fought and died on both sides—Union and Confederate.
In 1868 a woman named Ann Jarvis gathered a committee to try to establish a “Mother’s Friendship Day” to reunite families which had been split apart by the Civil War. The group had previously worked to improve sanitary conditions in the camps of both armies during an outbreak of typhoid.
Anna Jarvis, the daughter of Ann Jarvis continued the campaign to establish Mother’s Day as a national holiday. On May 9, 1914 President Woodrow Wilson proclaimed the second Sunday in May as a day for Americans to fly the flag to honor mothers who had lost sons in not only the Civil War but all wars.
The commercialization of the holiday happened so fast that in 1923 Anna Jarvis herself began to spend the rest of her life fighting against what the holiday had morphed into. She denounced the buying and giving of greeting cards as being too lazy to compose a personal letter.
Now days, Americans spend over $2 billion on flowers, $1.5 billion on gifts and over $60 billion on cards each year for Mother’s Day. That’s a long way from mothers of fallen soldiers from opposing sides getting together to work for peace and reconciliation.
That is what has happened to Christmas, Easter, Halloween and the Sabbath. At least in the short run, money seems to always win.