The Real Mother’s Day

Cybele, Rome's Magna Mater ("Great Mother")

Cybele, Rome’s Magna Mater (“Great Mother”)

Through time, there have been certain days when many cultures have honored mothers, but they aren’t tied directly to the American Mother’s Day. To claim that a day organized by different individuals on a different day of the month for a different purpose is the same as Mother’s Day is as fallacious as claiming it has close ties to the Hilaria, the Roman festivals to honor Cybele, their Magna Mater or Great Mother of the gods.? She was all about the power of the Roman state, not a nurturing mother.? Not the same animal.? Today, there are celebrations of women or mothers, with a day set aside for them, in most every country of the world.? However, America was the first country to make an official day honoring mothers per se.? Such events as Mothering Sunday in Great Britain originally had more to do with returning to one’s mother church before copying the the American version and Russia’s communist International Women’s Day only became Mother’s Day in 1998.

Suffragette and peace activist, Julia Ward Howe

Abolitionist, suffragette and peace activist, Julia Ward Howe

There those who claim that Julia Ward Howe’s Mother’s Day for Peace was the first Mother’s Day.? She is most famous for having penned “The battle Hymn of the Republic,” written to the music of the abolitionist’s theme song, “John Brown;s Body.”? It became the marching tune of the Union Army in the Civil War.? However, she later became a pacifist and proposed a day of “marching in the streets, not eating brunch” that started in 1872, to be observed every 2nd of June, known as the Mother’s Day for Peace. However, that Mother’s Day was never observed on a national level and Ms Howe’s version was almost defunct by 1893. Anna Jarvis started her efforts in 1907, inspired by honoring her own mother. Ms. Jarvis had no connection to Ms. Howe’s peace movement and only wanted a day to recognize mothers (beginning with her own), not of marches and protests.

Anna Marie Jarvis, beloved mother of the originator Mother's Day

Ann Marie Jarvis, beloved mother of the originator Mother’s Day

Some sources claim that Ms. Jarvis? mother, Ann Marie Reeves Jarvis, is a tie to Ms. Howe?s movement because of Ann?s efforts to help her community. While Ann Jarvis started Mothers’ Day Work Clubs to improve health and sanitation in 1858, which later treated wounded soldiers from both sides during the Civil War, and started Mothers Friendship Day to bind up families? emotional wounds from that war in 1865 (or 1868, depending on your source), she had no connection with Ms. Howe. According to those sources, Ann Jarvis inspired Ms. Howe to start her day of marches, but no one claims either Ms. Jarvis were ever a part of them.

Miss Anna Jarvis

Miss Anna Jarvis, who almost single-handedly created Mother’s Day, was never a mother herself.

Miss Anna Jarvis dearly loved her mother, Ann Marie, and, after her death in 1905, strove to honor her. Notice ?Mother?s Day? is not ?Mothers? Day,? because you are to honor your own mother on that day as Anna honored hers. In 1913 the House passed a resolution encouraging the wearing of a white carnation in honor of mothers on May 11th, but not creating the holiday Mother?s Day at that time.? Anna was not satisfied.? It was almost entirely due to her efforts that, on May 8, 1914, Congress passed the enactment of Mother’s Day (not Mother’s Day for Peace) as a national holiday to be celebrated on the second Sunday of May (not June 2).

Over-the-top Red Roses

Over-the-top Red Roses

It is true that Mother?s Day was soon commercialized, with businesses reaping great profits from the sale of flowers and cards, which greatly upset Anna Jarvis. She even became an opponent of her own holiday. However, if we wish to harken back to her original intent for Mother?s Day, we should write a letter to our wives and mothers, telling them how much they mean to us and go to church with them (Ms. Jarvis was a devout Christian). She even trademarked ?Mother?s Day? in a vain effort to prevent anyone from misusing the name. Those were her soon-dashed hopes for Mother?s Day.

A simple White Carnation speaks volumes

A simple White Carnation speaks volumes

if you want to really observe Mother?s Day as its founder would have done, write a letter to your mother and, if you are also a father, to the mother of your children to say how much they mean to you.? Go to church or your own place of religious observance with her.? It is more in keeping with Anna’s vision than sending roses.? However, if you’re sending flowers, remember that a single white carnation is much more appropriate than a whole room full of red roses.

2 thoughts on “The Real Mother’s Day

  1. Ron your writing is beyond amazing. I always learn history, cultures, and celebrations. Thank you Barbara Bueler

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