Anna Jarvis and Jenna Karvunidis are two names many don’t know, but their legacies live on whether they want them to or not. Anna Jarvis is credited as the founder of Mother’s Day in the United States of America. Jenna Karvunidis is credited as the founder of Gender-Reveal Parties (also in the USA). Neither Javis nor Karvunidis actually came up with the ideas but they are considered the ones who brought them into popularity. So where did things go wrong?
In the USA, one would be hard-pressed to find someone who has not heard of Mother’s Day (celebrated each 2nd Sunday in May). Julia Ward Howe attempted to create a “Mother’s Day” almost 40 years before it was celebrated in the USA. She worked with Anna Jarvis’ mother (Ann) as a peace activist and suffragette. Howe attempted to create a Mother’s Day in 1870. Originally a “Mother’s Day for Peace” celebrated on the 2nd of June each year to urge women the world over to champion peace over war. Her proclamation was unsuccessful in being granted. Anna Jarvis put a spin on the original idea making it more personal by acknowledging the mothers of individual families. Thus, she celebrated what is known as Mother’s Day in 1908 as a dedication to her own mother and advocated it to become a national holiday.
The proposal stalled in the U.S. Senate with one Senator even citing, “Might as well have a Father’s Day. Or a Mother-in-Law’s Day. Or an Uncle’s Day.” (Oh the sweet, sweet irony – he had no idea what was coming down the road.) As we all know, eventually it was accepted as a holiday and shortly after became the commercialized marketing juggernaut we know today. This commercialization of the holiday is what made Jarvis regret its existence. In 1943 she lost a petition to rescind Mother’s Day, because by then it was too popular (and profitable). Trivia Points: Anna Jarvis was childfree. Learn more about her and other Childfree Icons HERE.
Gender-reveal parties were happening prior to the 2008 blog Jenna Karvunidis posted about her own party. Her story was picked up by social media and news outlets which helped to springboard these parties to the mainstream. Karvunidis even admits that the world has changed since her party. For starters, celebrating genders seems out of touch when looking to the future. A child may have the sex of a girl or boy, but it is becoming more accepted to not place traditional gender constraints on them. For example, that girls should like pink and play with dolls while boys should like blue and play with cars.
It seems like simpler times when these “genders” were revealed by cutting a cake to see what color is inside. Oh social media, how you like to take things and go sideways with them. Now gender-reveal parties need to be big, different and go one step further to satisfy “look at me” narcissism. To the point that parties have lead to a plane crash, wildfires, and loss of life. All for the sake of getting a “like” or “share”. After the California wildfire in September of 2020 was found to have been caused by a gender-reveal party, Jenna Karvunidis on her facebook page High Gloss And Sauce had this to say:
“Oh my god NO.https://www.facebook.com/HighGlossSauce/posts/3526972507321132
The fire that evacuated parts of California is from a GENDER REVEAL PARTY.
Stop it. Stop having these stupid parties. For the love of God, stop burning things down to tell everyone about your kid’s penis. No one cares but you.“
This sentiment seems to compliment her 2019 post:
Who cares what gender the baby is? I did at the time because we didn’t live in 2019 and didn’t know what we know now – that assigning focus on gender at birth leaves out so much of their potential and talents that have nothing to do with what’s between their legs.https://www.facebook.com/HighGlossSauce/posts/2571540479531011
Jarvis and Karvunidis, in their minds, tried to provide something simple and positive while unknowingly opening up a Pandora’s Box. Mother’s Day became a marketer’s dream by providing guilt as leverage for their money making machines. Gender-Reveal Parties seem like they are already overdue to go away thanks to the increasing compassion towards the LGBTQ+ community. It is up to society with what to do next.
Cancel Mother’s Day? That won’t happen. For people who want to celebrate their moms, just remember you don’t need to spend a lot of money to let her know you love her. Regardless of what the card/candy/flowers/jewelry companies say – a phone call goes a long way.
If Gender Reveal Parties continue as the click-bait gods desire. Then, people need to start to recognize that gender (range of characteristics related to, and differentiating between, masculinity and femininity) is different than sex (determined by anatomy). But it is doubtful that parents will begin calling them “Baby Sex Parties”.
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