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(E) History of Mother's Day Celebration
By Nenad N. Bach | Published  05/9/2005 | History | Unrated
(E) History of Mother's Day Celebration

 

History of Mother's Day Celebration
 

By Katarina Tepesh


On the second Sunday in May, many families and churches make a special point of honoring mothers, hoping that Mother's Day would increase respect for parents and strengthen family bonds.
Historians claim that the holiday of Mother's Day emerged from the ancient festival dedicated to mother goddess.
In Rome, too, a mother Goddess was worshipped as early as 250 BC.
Historians say that there are reasons to believe that the Mother Church was substituted for Mother Goddess by the early church. Some say the ceremonies honoring Roman Goddesses were adopted by the early church to venerate the Mother of Christ, Mother Mary.
In the sixteenth century, people brought gifts to their mothers on Mothering Sunday, as it was called then. Typical gifts were cakes and little mementos.
The Origin of Mother's Day in the United States
The first mention of the idea of Mother's Day can be traced to Julia Ward Howe (1819-1910), who suggested it in 1872. Howe, who wrote the famous words to the Battle Hymn of the Republic, saw Mother's Day as being dedicated to peace. She organized Mother's Day meetings in Boston, Massachusetts every year.
An American writer, lecturer, and reformer, Ms. Howe was one of the most famous women of her time. She was born in New York City into a prominent family and married American social reformer Samuel Gridley Howe in 1843. They moved to Boston, where she wrote poems and plays and helped her husband edit The Commonwealth, an antislavery paper.
In 1861, during the Civil War, Howe visited military camps near Washington, D.C. There she was inspired to write "The Battle Hymn of the Republic" to be sung to the tune of the popular American song "John Brown's Body."
Civil War soldiers liked to create their own marching songs by singing humorous lyrics to familiar tunes. Early in the war, Union soldiers began to sing the words "John Brown's body lies a-mouldering in the grave." In 1861, Julia Ward Howe heard an obscene version of the "John Brown" song at a Union army camp. She decided to write more appropriate lyrics and composed "The Battle Hymn of the Republic."
By Julia Ward Howe
Mine eyes have seen the glory of the coming of the Lord
He is trampling out the vintage where the grapes of wrath are stored,
He has loosed the fateful lightening of His terrible swift sword
His truth is marching on.
Glory! Glory! Hallelujah!
Glory! Glory! Hallelujah!
Glory! Glory! Hallelujah!
His truth is marching on.
It was published in the Atlantic Monthly in 1862 and soon appeared in all the Union army hymnbooks.
After the war, Howe became increasingly interested in the women's movement. In 1868, she helped organize the New England Women's Club and served for many years as its president. Howe also became the first president of the New England Women Suffrage Association.

Howe’s writings include A Trip to Cuba (1860), Sex and Education (1874), Modern Society (1881), Margaret Fuller (1883), and Reminiscences (1899). In 1908, she became the first woman elected to the American Academy of Arts and Letters.
In 1877, it was the actions of an Albion, Michigan, Pioneer woman, Juliet Calhoun Blakeley, which continued setting Mother's Day in motion as a sign of respect honoring motherhood.
But it is Anna Jarvis of Philadelphia who is credited with bringing about the official observance of Mother's Day. Her campaign to establish such a holiday began as a remembrance of her mother, who died in 1905 and who had, in the late 19th century, tried to establish "Mother's Friendship Days" as a way to heal the scars of the Civil War.
For the first official Mother's Day service in 1908, Anna Jarvis sent 500 white carnations to the church to be given to the participating mothers. During the next several years, she sent more than 10,000 carnations there. Carnations –- red for the living and white for the deceased -– became symbols of the purity, strength and endurance of motherhood.
In her campaign to have Mother's Day recognized as a national holiday, Jarvis called on clergymen, business leaders and politicians for help.
In 1914, the U.S. House and Senate approved a resolution proclaiming the second Sunday of May as Mother's Day. President Woodrow Wilson endorsed it and issued the first Mother's Day proclamation, stating that the observance serves as a "public expression of our love and reverence for the mothers of our country." (This is more of a political statement than an explanation of the holiday, but it made it official!)
But Jarvis' accomplishment soon turned bitter for her. Enraged by the commercialization of the holiday, she filed a lawsuit to stop a 1923 Mother's Day festival and was even arrested for disturbing the peace at a war mothers' convention where women sold white carnations - Jarvis' symbol for mothers - to raise money. "This is not what I intended," Jarvis said. "I wanted it to be a day of sentiment, not profit."
When she died in 1948 in a sanatorium in Pennsylvania at age 84, Jarvis had become a woman of great ironies. Never a mother herself, her maternal fortune dissipated by her efforts to stop the commercialization of the holiday she had founded, Jarvis told a reporter shortly before her death that she was sorry she had ever started Mother's Day. She spoke these words in a nursing home where every Mother's Day her room had been filled with cards from all over the world. On the day of the funeral, the bell on Andrews Church in Grafton tolled 84 times in her honor.


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