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Philadelphia Plays Unlikely Role In Creation Of Mother’s Day

(portrait of Anna Jarvis)

(portrait of Anna Jarvis)

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By Pat Loeb

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — The Philadelphia woman who started Mother’s Day spent her later years trying to do away with the holiday, including turning on her earliest supporter, John Wanamaker.

The very first Mother’s Day celebrations were in 1908, six years before Congress officially recognized the holiday, and one of the two official observances was in Wanamaker’s Department store, in the building now known as Macy’s, at 13th and Market Streets.

Cara Schneider of Philadelphia’s Tourism Marketing office says it was a favor from the retail magnate to the holiday’s champion, Anna Jarvis.

“John Wanamaker was an early advocate,” she says, “and from the appearance of it, he really loved the idea of what Anna Jarvis was working for.”

Could Wanamaker have had an ulterior motive? Jarvis came to think so. She was disgusted by the commercialism that quickly infested the holiday and began campaigning to have it abolished, but Schneider says she was less successful at that.

“But she should rest easy knowing there are still a lot of people who very much appreciate the recognition.

Jarvis died in West Chester in 1948.

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