Vive Le Canada

The fight to copyright Mother's Day
Date: Friday, March 16 2007

The fight to copyright Mother's Day
By Victoria Bone and Denise Winterman
BBC News

It's big business but who really objects to spending money on spoiling their mum on Mother's Day? Only the woman who invented it.

Mothers, they're lovely. They kiss you better when you hurt yourself, cook your favourite dinners and always take your side when someone is nasty to you.

The High Street shops might make a mint out of Mother's Day, but who really objects to splashing a bit of cash on their mum on her special day? One woman did and spent 40 years of her life trying to get rid of all the cards and presents - the woman who invented the day.

The old English Mothering Sunday has its roots in pre-Christian times, but modern-day Mother's Day - the cards, flowers, chocolates etc - was started in the United States by Anna Jarvis.

The ninth of 11 children, she made it her life's work to commemorate every mother after her own mother died. The idea - like Mothering Sunday - was for families to get together in church to recognise the real value of motherhood.

Firstly she got her local church involved and after tirelessly campaigning for almost a decade, US President Woodrow Wilson officially dedicated a day to mothers in 1914 - the second Sunday in May.

But within years it had become commercialised. Ms Jarvis was horrified. She tried to take action, incorporating herself as the Mother's Day International Association and claiming copyright on the date.

Along with her sister Ellsinore, Anna spent the entire family inheritance on trying to undo the damage done to Mother's Day. One of her protests even got her arrested for disturbing the peace. She died in 1948, in poverty and without success.

In one respect what Ms Jarvis wanted from the day lives on - it has taken on huge significance and is a celebration of motherhood. However, how most people chose to celebrate it would make her turn in her grave.

Published: 2007/03/16 11:59:52 GMT

[Proofreader's note: this article was edited for spelling and typos on March 16, 2007]

This article comes from Vive Le Canada

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