Today is a day set aside to honor mothers. As is the case in this country with most holidays that have been overtaken by rampant commercialization, it is easy to lose sight of the significant roots of Mother’s Day.
While we celebrate the mothers in our lives and the world over, we owe the prevalence of such a day to some amazing women who saw the day as a time for reconciliation and peace.
Women’s peace groups were the first to attempt to commemorate a “Mother’s Day,” primarily as a way for mothers from both sides of the Civil War who had lost children to gather together. Sporadic events were held throughout the next several decades. Ann Jarvis and her daughter Anna Jarvis are the two women credited the most with continuing the practice of a “Mother’s Friendship Day,” with the purpose of reuniting “families that had been divided during the Civil War.”
In 1872, Julia Ward Howe started a Mother’s Day of Peace as an anti-war observance in New York City which lasted a decade before it fizzled out.
Eventually in 1908, Anna Jarvis was able to officially observe a Mother’s Day at Andrew’s Methodist Episcopal Church in Grafton, West Virginia, the church where her mother taught Sunday School. Jarvis then campaigned for the day to become an official national holiday. West Virginia and other states passed legislation to do so. In 1914, Congress followed suit by passing a law whereby the second Sunday of May would be declared Mother’s Day. President Woodrow Wilson then issued a proclamation for citizens to wave the flag to honor mothers whose sons had been killed in war.
So Mother’s Day is rooted in the twin seeds of peace and reconciliation.
Let us never forget that.
Or our mothers.
May 13, 2012