A call went out to the students at EHC for inspiration for this week’s weblog – they came back with the theme of Mother’s Day. Looking into the origins of this celebration I came across several versions of its history and its varying celebratory traditions. But, it is important just to recognize the contributions of all great women, mothers, and in my case, my mother the founder of EHC, who is strong willed, energetic and has a great Vision.
As Founder of EHC, Elfriede has dedicated the past 20 years of her life to developing Ecole Holt Couture based on her ideals, 60+ years of experience and the fortunate opportunity of her own training. Not one to be put off by some resistance and more than a few obstacles she has contributed a wealth of knowledge to be passed on to future generations to take advantage of as the basis for a career in Couture Fashion.
It appears that the Mother’s Day that we are familiar with in North America can be traced back to the name of three incredible women. In recognizing these women who have been given the credit for establishing Mother’s Day, countless others – who to us are now nameless – have also given their support to these heroic efforts.
Anna Reeves Jarvis and Anna Marie Jarvis
In the 1850’s, American – Anna Reeves Jarvis, organized Mother Work Day Clubs that focused on providing medicine for the poor and on improving sanitary conditions. Then, during the Civil War, Mother’s Day Clubs cared for all soldiers — regardless of which side of the battle they had chosen. After the war ended, Anna continued her peacemaking by working to bring people together to heal the deep wounds of those who had been divided by the war. In light of this, in 1872 Anna celebrated a special day terming it Mothers’ Day for Peace.
After Anna Reeves Jarvis died, her daughter Anna M. Jarvis campaigned for the creation of an official Mother’s Day in remembrance of her mother and in honor of peace.
In 1908, Anna petitioned the superintendent of the church where her Mother had spent over 20 years teaching Sunday school. Her request was honored, and on May 10, 1908, the first official Mother’s Day celebration took place at Andrew’s Methodist Church in Grafton, West Virginia and a church in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.
The West Virginia event drew a congregation of 407 and Anna Jarvis arranged for white carnations—her Mother’s favorite flower—to adorn the patrons. Today, white carnations are used to honor deceased Mothers, while pink or red carnations pay tribute to Mothers who are still alive.
In 1912, Anna M Jarvis trademarked the phrases “second Sunday in May” and “Mother’s Day”, and created the Mother’s Day International Association. In 1914, U.S. President Woodrow Wilson signed a bill recognizing Mother’s Day as a national holiday.
Anna had become disappointed with its commercialization already by the 1920s.”Any mother would rather have a line of the worst scribble from her son or daughter than any fancy greeting card,” she also once pointed out, “There is no connection between candy and this day.”
As Mother’s Day celebration began in 1908 in the US, it was followed in Canada a year later in 1909.
Julia Ward Howe
Social and Anti-Slavery activist Julia Ward Howe (1819-1910) who wrote ‘Battle Hymn of the Republic’, also wrote the Mother’s Day Proclamation in 1870, which she delivered at a Women’s Peace Conference in London. The proclamation was an antiwar reaction and belief that women had a social responsibility to shape their societies.
Arise, then, women of this day!
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 often 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. Julia Ward Howe Boston 1870
Mothering Sunday in the UK
In the Roman religion the Hilaria festival was held in honour of the mother goddess Cybele and it took place during mid-March. As the Roman Empire and Europe slowly converted to Christianity, this celebration became part of the liturgical calendar as Laetare Sunday, the fourth Sunday in Lent to honour the Virgin Mary and the “mother church“.
Although the beginnings of Christianity in England can be traced back to 300AD, it appears that by 1400 AD like the rest of Europe, England and Ireland were observing the mid-Lent holiday and honored their “Mother Church,” by decorating the church with flowers where they were baptized; it was considered important for them to return to their “mother” church at least once a year.
Mothering Sunday by the 1700’s, was observed by taking a break from the fasting and penitence of Lent and having a family feast. Children would make a rare journey home from their apprenticeships and jobs in ‘service’ to spend one day a year with their mother and family. They would pick wild flowers along the way to place them in the church or to give them to their mothers as gifts. Eventually, the religious tradition evolved into the Mothering Sunday and the secular tradition of giving gifts, cakes and flowers—especially violets—to mothers.
In the early 1900’s to 1920s, the custom of keeping Mothering Sunday had tended to lapse in the UK, Ireland and in continental Europe. But, in 1914 inspired by Anna Jarvis, Constance Penswick-Smith created the Mothering Sunday Movement,and in 1921 she wrote a book asking for the revival of the Mothering Sunday festival. It also experienced a wide scale revival in the UK through the influence of American and Canadian soldiers serving abroad during World War II.
The traditions of Mothering Sunday, practised by the Church of England and Church of Ireland were merged with the newly-imported traditions still celebrated in the wider Catholic communities. By the 1950s Mother’s day was celebrated by everyone in Ireland and the UK on the same day that Mothering Sunday was celebrated, however, the two celebrations are not the same observance.
Today over 70 countries observe Mother’s Day http://www.mothersdaycentral.com/about-mothersday/history/#anna
Happy Mother’s Day!