Friday, May 7, 2010

The Origins of Mother's Day

Whatever you call her: Kuan Yin, Ishtar, Lakshmi, Persephone, Shakti, Kali, or just plain Mom --the concept of the Divine Mother, the sacred feminine, the giver of life is as old as the hills.

Cultures have honored and worshipped mothers through history.
Whether it was the Greeks and their mommy goddess Rhea, the Romans and their Latin momma Cybele or the Celts with Brigid.

Many European goddesses were transformed into saints, thus Saint Brigid. The veneration of Mary the Mother of Jesus is another manifestation of the phenom.

So how did Mother’s Day become a celebration of a household goddess like your very own mother?

Here’s the quick explanation.

You may have noticed an entry printed in your dayplanner a few weeks ago called
Mothering Sunday. In 17th Century Britain on the 4th Sunday in Lent the scrubs of society –apprentices and servants were allowed to return home to visit their mums. They’d bring mom a fruitcake called a "mothering cake". Apparently this custom petered out, only to rear its head again during WWII.

Meanwhile across the pond.

In 1870, Julia Ward Howe author of The Battle Hymn of the Republic was sickened by the carnage of the Franco-Prussian War. She issued a call for peace at an international peace conference and began promoting the idea of a "Mother's Day for Peace" to be celebrated on June 2, it was to honor peace, motherhood and womanhood By 1873, eighteen American cities were holding a Mother's Day for Peace celebration. Bastan celebrated the Mam’s Day for Peace for at least 10 years. The movement ran out of dough, and then ran out of steam.

Fast forward to 1905.

A woman named Anna Jarvis swore at her mother's gravesite in 1905 that she would dedicate her life to establishing a Mother's Day to honor mothers, living and dead.

In 1907 She gave out white carnations, her mother’s favorite flower at a local church. Eventually white carnations became a symbol for departed moms, red carnation to honor living moms. Jarvis quits her job and worked fulltime lobbying to make Mother’s Day an official holiday.

Basically it’s hard for a politician to go against mom or apple pie so in 1912 West Virginia became the first state to declare an official Mother's Day.

In 1914 Pres. Woodrow Wilson signs a bill establishing Mother’s Day nationwide. It specifically emphasized women's role in the family (not as activists in the public arena, like Howe's Mother's Day)

The day kinda took off from there.

Jarvis was none too happy about what eventually became of her special day. She was appalled by the commercialization of Mother's Day and said: "I wanted it to be a day of sentiment, not profit." She opposed the selling of flowers and greeting cards: "a poor excuse for the letter you are too lazy to write."

Anna Jarvis never had children of her own. She died in 1948, blind and penniless and was buried next to her mother.

But on a happy note ----Hallmark Cards stock price is soaring.

Happy Mother’s Day to you and the beautiful goddess who brought you into the world.


Marie's Bouncing Baby Boy

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