Sideswipe: October 20: Double take…

How Mother's Day got taken over

The founder of Mother’s Day, Anna Jarvis, had no children of her own and decried the commercialisation of the holiday. Jarvis had proposed a national Mother’s Day in 1907, in part to honour her own mother. She promoted the idea with governors, congressmen, editors, and the White House, and in 1914 Woodrow Wilson set aside the second Sunday in May for the nation’s mothers. But the holiday was almost immediately co-opted by merchants, a turn that horrified Jarvis. “Confectioners put a white ribbon on a box of candy and advance the price just because it’s Mother’s Day,” she complained in 1924. She tried to stem the tide by legal means, incorporating herself as the Mother’s Day International Association and threatening copyright suits against what she felt were commercial celebrations. She had recommended the wearing of carnations to mark the holiday; when florists raised the price she distributed celluloid buttons instead at her own expense. She reserved a special bitterness for sons who bought mass-produced cards for their mothers. “A maudlin, insincere printed card or ready-made telegram means nothing except that you’re too lazy to write to the woman who has done more for you than anyone else in the world,” she said. “Any mother would rather have a line of the worst scribble from her son or daughter than any fancy greeting card.”

Sage advice

Did you know…

1. The first-ever mobile phone call was made to another lab trying to develop a mobile phone. The scientist in charge called up his rival to say “Joel, I’m calling you from a ‘real’ cellular telephone. A portable handheld telephone.” His rival hung up without speaking.
2. The first message ever sent over the internet was ‘LO’. It was meant to say ‘LOGIN’, but the system crashed half way through.
3. The South Korean equivalent of ‘looking for a needle in a haystack’ is ‘looking for Mr Kim in Seoul’.
4. In 1829, a dying woman in a village near Mansfield in the English Midlandsasked a friend to bury her son’s letters with her. She forgot and had them buried with the local postman who died soon after hoping him to be ‘as diligent a postman in the other world as he had been in this’.
5. Five African grey parrots have had to be removed from display at a Lincolnshire Wildlife Park for swearing at visitors and then laughing with each other.
6. And good news…Taking a hot bath for an hour burns as many calories as going for a half-hour walk.

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