Arise, then, women of this day! ~ Julia Ward Howe
I like the picture above because I actually knew a family where the mother locked her children out of the house in the morning and didn’t let them back in until later in the day. They used to eat lunch at my mother-in-law’s house. The mother of the family did have seven children so maybe that’s why she did it.
Mother’s Day is celebrated in the United States on the second Sunday of May. Mothers are supposed to be lavished with attention and love so if you haven’t done so yet, get going!
Mothers weren’t always honored. It used to be a day for honoring goddesses and other mythological female deities. Isis was the first recorded mother deity and was considered the Mother of the Pharoahs. She was famous for re-assemblying her murdered brother-husband’s body after he was murdered by his brother Seth, impregnating herself with it and giving birth to a child who in turn murdered Seth. Any genealogical study of that family would be challenging to say the least.
The Romans worshipped Isis as well. They had another one called Cybele. The Greeks had Rhea.
Europeans declared a holiday to honor Motherhood on the 4th Sunday of Lent but it was Mother Church they were honoring.
An English cleric in the 1600’s decreed that the celebration would include real mothers.
When the English settlers came to America, they canceled Mothering day.
It didn’t come to our country until 1870 when Julia Ward Howe, the author of the Battle Hymn of the Republic, proclaimed Mother’s Day. She was devastated by the futility and carnage of war which took sons from other women’s sons and called on mothers to protest.
She called for an international Mother’s Day celebrating peace and motherhood with the following poem –
Arise all women who have hearts,
Whether your baptism be that of water or of tears
“We will not have great questions decided by irrelevant agencies,
Our husbands shall not come to us reeking of carnage,
For caresses and applause.
Our sons shall not be taken from us to unlearn
All that we have been able to teach them of
charity, mercy and patience.
“We women of one country
Will be too tender of those of another country
To allow our sons to be trained to injure theirs.”
From the bosom of the devastated earth a voice goes up with
Our own. It says, “Disarm, Disarm!”
The sword of murder is not the balance of justice!
Blood does not wipe out dishonor
Nor violence indicate possession.
As men have of ten forsaken the plow and the anvil at the summons of war.
Let women now leave all that may be left of home
For a great and earnest day of counsel.
Let them meet first, as women, to bewail and commemorate the dead.
Let them then solemnly take counsel with each other as to the means
Whereby the great human family can live in peace,
Each bearing after his own time the sacred impress, not of Caesar,
But of God.
In the name of womanhood and humanity, I earnestly ask
That a general congress of women without limit of nationality
May be appointed and held at some place deemed most convenient
And at the earliest period consistent with its objects
To promote the alliance of the different nationalities,
The amicable settlement of international questions.
The great and general interests of peace.
July 4th and later June 2nd became Mother’s Day thanks to Julia Ward Howe who footed the bill. It then died out.
Then along came Anna M. Jarvis in 1908.
Anna M. Jarvis campaigned for a Mother’s Day in honor of her mother.
Anna M., the 9th of 11 children, was born May 1, 1864. Her mother taught Sunday School and used to end the class with a prayer which her daughter remembered from the age of 12.
“I hope that someone, sometime will found a memorial mothers day commemorating her for the matchless service she renders to humanity in every field of life. She is entitled to it.”
At the grave of her mother, she swore to her mother that she would have that day. She began her campaign in 1907.
On May 10, 1908 her campaign was honored where she taught Sunday School at Andrew’s Methodist Church in Grafton, West Virginia and a church in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. She started a tradition of wearing carnations and had 500 carnations delivered for this first celebration.
The idea grew and in 1908, a U.S. Senator from Nebraska, Elmer Burkett, proposed making it a national holiday. Anna M. Jarvis kept up the fight. She was concerned about over-commercialization and fought that too.
The holiday was declared officially by the state of West Virginia in 1910, and the rest of states followed quickly. On May 8, 1914, the U.S. Congress passed a law designating the second Sunday in May as Mother’s Day and requesting a proclamation. On May 9, 1914 President Woodrow Wilson issued a proclamation declaring the first national Mother’s Day as a day for American citizens to show the flag in honor of those mothers whose sons had died in war.
In 1934, U.S. President Franklin Delano Roosevelt approved a stamp commemorating the holiday.
Anna Jarvis died in 1948, blind, poor and childless.
In May 2008 the U.S. House of Representative voted twice on a resolution commemorating Mother’s Day, the first one being unanimous (with 21 members not voting). The Grafton’s church, where the first celebration was held, is now the International Mother’s Day Shrine and is a National Historic Landmark. [Wiki]
Thank you Julia Ward Howe, Anna Jarvis, and all mothers and people who love mothers!