The Floral Industry

Mother's Day Program - 1961

This is a program from a Mother's Day service in 1961 at the Andrews Methodist Episcopal Church, picturing a red and white carnation.

Anna Jarvis originally selected the carnation as the emblem of Mother’s Day because of her mother’s love of the flower. It also was inexpensive, allowing almost anyone to offer it as a tribute to his or her mother. Jarvis went on to imbue the white carnation with the symbolic meanings of purity, fidelity, beauty, charity, and love. As the flower came to be tied to Mother’s Day, the price jumped as florists hiked the price of the flower from half a cent to a dollar between 1908 and 1920. They exploited its popularity at Mother’s Day to make a profit, upsetting Anna Jarvis that florists wished to profit off of her mother’s favorite flower.

Anna Jarvis - Original Button Design

This is the original button design that Anna Jarvis used. The creation of this button was symbolic of her conflict with the floral industry and the commercialization of the holiday.

To undercut the floral industry, Jarvis began to offer as an alternative to actual carnations, a badge with a white carnation emblem on it. She hoped to offer the badges for free, but had to charge a minimal fee to pay for the materials.


Eventually, Anna Jarvis’ drive to defend her vision of Mother’s Day and motherhood led to a sad end. Because she refused to profit from Mother’s Day as others did, Jarvis spent her funds defending the holiday she created and battling those who did profit from it. Eventually, with her health ruined and her finances in shambles, Jarvis was admitted to a hospital in Philadelphia. During the last years of her life, the Anna M. Jarvis Committee supported her and ran the affairs of the mother’s day movement. When Jarvis died on November 24, 1948, it was again the official committee who made all the final arrangements. Jarvis is buried in West Laurel Hill Cemetery in Philadelphia with a spray of carnations decorating her casket.

Anna Jarvis
The Floral Industry