A day for all reasons…

12 May

I’m frequently being castigated for my cynical views on the proliferation of the various celebrations that spring from the minds of marketing executives around the world, and it seems that even the implementers of such events were equally put out by the rampant commercialism that became synonymous with their originally laudable creations.

Take today for example.
I’ve noticed on my Facebook feed that a lot of people have been celebrating Mothers’ Day around the world this Sunday.
This, I have to admit, did give me one slight moment of affiliate panic, thinking that I’d missed the first guilt-rip-off of the year. But of course, being English, we have to be bloody different to everyone else and have ours in March.

I took this as a sign that we were probably the ones who came up with the idea of honouring our family matriarchs with their own day, never really having considered that it may have originated elsewhere.

But no, it was an American invention.
I immediately thought; Well that makes sense, another import from the land of commercialism.

Although it seems as if I did a disservice to the woman who began the tradition.


Daughter of Invention – Anna Jarvis.

Mothers’ day was initially the idea of West Virginian peace worker Anna Jarvis, who dedicated the day to her late mother in 1908, at a memorial in Grafton.
Her idea was to show appreciation for her mother, to encourage other women to do the same, and to have children write letters of tribute to their mothers. She even gave out free carnations at her mother, Ann’s memorial.



The Mother’s Day shrine and more recent Mother and Child statue, Grafton, VA.

It seems, however, that it took only a few years for the local florists and candy makers to take commercial advantage of her good intentions.
Indeed, by 1920 Jarvis was so offended by the attempt to hijack her idea for financial gain, she was actually instrumental in trying to get the celebration banned, going so far as to get herself arrested for disturbing the peace by gatecrashing, and protesting at, a confectioners convention in 1925.

Sadly, she died penniless after having spent much of her later life campaigning against what her own innocent idea had become.

A printed card means nothing except that you are too lazy to write to the woman who has done more for you than anyone in the world. And candy! You take a box to Mother—and then eat most of it yourself. A pretty sentiment.
—Anna Jarvis.

Now I’m not saying that I disapprove of the concept of honouring the woman who brought me into the world, or the woman who, after Mum died and my Dad remarried, worked so hard to bring up someone else’s kids as well as her own.

But why should I be forced into doing so on one particular day?

I do, of course, as we are all so conditioned by the media to observe such things that it would seem unreasonably churlish not to do so.

How many more of these days of tribute are we going to get though?

I mean, the beginnings of Father’s Day were equally free from cynical financial motives.


          Sonora Smart Dodd.

Another formidable woman, Sonora Smart Dodd, was responsible for the appearance of the paternal equivalent of Jarvis’s memorial, dedicating a day to her father, and to other Civil War veterans in Spokane, WA, in 1910.
Although the holiday was a long time catching on.

When Dodd left for a few years it died out, and it was only when she returned to the area some time later that she convinced local traders that producing male-orientated gifts such as pipes and tobacco would be in their interests – as well as reinvigorating her idea – which finally caught on locally. But it still took until 1966 before president Johnson made it a nationally recognised event.

(Ironically, it appears that the American public initially rejected the idea, as they considered it a cynical attempt by merchants to jump on the bandwagon of Jarvis’s earlier idea)

So what will be the next day that somebody thinks we need to celebrate?
We already have Christmas, Easter, Birthdays, Valentine’s Day, Halloween, April Fools Day, Groundhog Day, and now we even have National Grandparents Day.

Whatever next, International Son’s Day?

Ah, hang on, I think I might have something there…


Posted by on May 12, 2013 in aardvark, Blogging, Etymology


Tags: ,

16 responses to “A day for all reasons…

  1. Kilburn Adam

    May 12, 2013 at 19:18


    • dalecooper57

      May 12, 2013 at 19:21

      Thank you for your mature input and considered opinion.

  2. rumpydog

    May 12, 2013 at 22:44

    I think you need a day to celebrate dogs! You should give them cookies.

    • dalecooper57

      May 13, 2013 at 07:15

      A great plan Rumpy. Dog days?….now there’s an idea.

  3. iancochrane

    May 12, 2013 at 23:43

    Haha, loved the `cookies’ comment.
    Didn’t know the history Dale; it is interesting.

    Although the intention with these things may be good, there’s no doubt they spiral out of control; but that’s our choice I guess. As with most things it seems, don’t know why the Western world goes down that track.

    I see no problem with a recognition of the debt we obviously have to mothers/fathers for example. Lets just keep it meaningful. Simple is often best. We have the power!
    Cheers, ic

    • dalecooper57

      May 13, 2013 at 07:13

      I try to resist the corporate bullshit as much as I can. Make an effort all year, then you don’t feel pressured into spending insane amounts of money on crap nobody wants.

  4. Ron

    May 13, 2013 at 01:25

    I have to agree with you, we here in the west commercialize everything.

    “But why should I be forced into doing so on one particular day?”

    You’re absolutely right, these sentiments can be practiced all throughout the year; not just on a particular day. As your commenter above me (ic) shared, keep it meaningful and simple.

  5. Richard

    May 13, 2013 at 13:35

    I’m also inclined to despise any public holiday created by card companies and gift manufacturers… but I think you’ve overlooked an important detail here.

    The tradition of Mothers’ Day was actually inspired by Mothering Sunday, which has its roots in 16th century Europe. All the Americans added to this, was the notion of money changing hands.

    Although, all credit to Anna Jarvis, it sounds like her initial hijacking of the tradition was a kindly idea at least.

    • dalecooper57

      May 13, 2013 at 15:17

      Damn, you out-info-dumped me. Saw that fact, and thought if I wrote that, I’d have to go into the Greek cult of Cybele, and I wanted to keep it short and to the point.

      • Richard

        May 13, 2013 at 17:49

        There’s always room for some Greek cults…

  6. melanie jean juneau

    May 15, 2013 at 03:23

    Go check this out. You are a recipient of these no-strings-attached awards

    • dalecooper57

      May 15, 2013 at 05:34

      Thank you Melanie. Slightly vague, but I’m grateful all the same.

      • melanie jean juneau

        May 15, 2013 at 05:35

        just copy and past on your blog and send encouragment how and when you want with no rules,

      • dalecooper57

        May 15, 2013 at 08:50

        Ok. But what are they for?


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