Sunday, May 12, 2013

History of Mother's Day

Using sources on the Internet, I've found that the United States celebrates Mother's Day on the second Sunday in May since 1914.

In 1872, Julia Ward Howe called for women to join in support of disarmament and asked for June 2nd, 1872, to be established as a "Mother's Day for Peace".

Her 1870, "Appeal to womanhood throughout the world" is sometimes referred to as Mother's Day Proclamation. But Howe's day was not for honoring mothers but for organizing pacifist mothers against war.

In the 1880s and 1890s there were several further attempts to establish an American "Mother's Day", but these did not succeed beyond the local level.

The current holiday was started by Anna Jarvis in Grafton, West Virginia in 1908, when she honored her mother.

After that, Anna Jarvis wanted to accomplish her mother's dream of making a celebration for all mothers, although the idea did not take off until she enlisted the services of wealthy Philadelphia merchant John Wanamaker, who celebrated it on May 8th, 1910 in Bethany Temple Presbyterian Church, Philadelphia, PA of which he was the founder.

In a letter to the pastor, she said it was, "our first Mother's Day".

Various observances honoring mothers existed in America during the 1870s and the 1880s, but these never had resonance beyond the local level. Yet, Anna Jarvis kept promoting the holiday until President Woodrow Wilson made the day an official national holiday in 1914.

Anna Jarvis never mentioned Julia Ward Howe's attempts in the 1870s to establish a "Mother's Day for Peace", nor any connection to the Protestant school celebrations that included "Children's Day" among others.

Neither did she mention the traditional festival of Mothering Sunday, but always said that the creation was her's alone.  Imagine that!

The holiday eventually became so commercialized that many, including its founder Anna Jarvis, considered it a "Hallmark holiday" - one with an overwhelming commercial purpose.

Though I would think the commercialization of Mother's Day would mean more attention to mothers, as strange as it sounds, Anna Jarvis eventually ended up opposing the holiday she had helped to create.

In fact, she opposed it so much so, that when she died in 1948, its said that she died regretting what had become of "her holiday."

If it was a selfish act, so what! Mother's Day is one of America most beloved holidays for all of the right reasons.

Mostly, it gives us a chance to celebrate Mom officially!

Mother's Day is a celebration honoring mothers and motherhood, maternal bonds, and the influence of mothers in society.

In the United States, Mother's Day remains one of the biggest days for sales of flowers, greeting cards, and the like; Mother's Day is also the biggest holiday for long-distance telephone calls.

In fact, churchgoing is also popular on Mother's Day! Yielding the highest church attendance after Christmas Eve and Easter, many worshipers celebrate the day with carnations - colored if the mother is living and white if she has passed away.

Mother's Day complements Father's Day, a similar celebration honoring fathers.

The celebration of Mother's Day in the United States is not related to the many celebrations of mothers and motherhood that have occurred throughout the world. But, in most countries, Mother's Day is a recent observance derived from the holiday as it has evolved in the United States.

As adopted by other countries and cultures, the holiday has different meanings, is associated with different religious, historical, and legendary events, and is celebrated on different dates.

In some cases, countries already had existing celebrations honoring motherhood, and their celebrations then adopted several external characteristics from the American holiday, such as giving carnations and other presents to one's mother.

These days ex-Communists countries usually celebrate the Socialist "International Women's Day" instead of the more capitalist Mother's Day. Some ex-Communist countries, like Russia, still follow this custom.

But they also might simply celebrate both holidays, which is the custom in Ukraine.

In the Roman Catholic Church, the holiday is strongly associated with revering the Virgin Mary. In many Catholic homes, families have a special shrine devoted to the Blessed Virgin Mary.

In many Eastern Catholic and Eastern Orthodox Churches, a special prayer service is held in honor of the Theotokos Virgin Mary.

In Hindu tradition Mother's Day is called "Mata Tirtha Aunshi" or "Mother Pilgrimage fortnight", and is celebrated in countries with a Hindu population, especially in Nepal.

The holiday is observed on the new moon day in the month of Baisakh, i.e., April/May.

This celebration is based on Hindu religion and it pre-dates the creation of the Western-inspired holiday by at least a few centuries.

Now for the big surprise, believe it or not, Islamic countries who practice medieval Sharia Law also celebrate Mother's Day.

Yes its true! But while those countries celebrate Mother's Day on different days throughout the year, I can't help but wonder who is left to celebrate Mother's Day in Muslim nations since their children are so busy setting off bombs - either killing innocent people or themselves?

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