May 13, 2007

Happy Mother's Day!

Posted by Picasa As we celebrate this holiday which honors mothers everywhere, it is good to understand the strange roots and the path that this celebration took to become what it is today. Like many holidays, it also seems to link back to ancient celebrations in Greece. Originally, it honored Cybele, a Phyrigian goddess, who symbolized the deification of the Earth Mother. Like Gaia, Mother Earth, or her Minoan counterpart, Rhea, she embodied the fertile earth, the caverns and mountains, nature and all wild animals. And Spring, with all of its symbols of life, death and birth, became the time of the entity and deity of the 'Great Mother'.

As with many ancient rites and traditions, the peoples of the British Isles transposed the more pagan deifications into more acceptable Christian forms. In time it actually even represented "Mother Church". It wasn't until the 1600's, that England celebrated a day called 'Mothering Sunday. All servants would be given the day off, encourage to return to their own homes and spend the day with their mothers. A special cake, called a 'mothering cake' was served.

In the United States, an official Mother's Day was first suggested in 1872 by social activist, Julia Ward Howe. As an abolitionist, pacifist, suffragette, and the author of "The Battle Hymn of the Republic", she wrote her now famous Mother's Day Proclamation as a reaction to the carnage of the American Civil War. Her proclamation was tied to her belief that women had a responsibility to shape their societies at the political level. And she called upon them as women, as mothers, to make a difference in the political climate of the era, by rising up in support of peace.

In 1907, Ana Jarvis, from Philadelphia, began a national campaign to establish a national Mother's Day, beginning first in her own church, and then moving outward into others. Miss Jarvis and her supporters began to write to ministers, businessman, and politicians in their quest to establish a national Mother's Day. It was successful as by 1911 Mother's Day was celebrated in almost every state. President Woodrow Wilson, in 1914, made the official announcement proclaiming Mother's Day as a national holiday that was to be held each year on the 2nd Sunday of May.

While many countries of the world celebrate their own Mother's Day at different times throughout the year, there are some countries such as Denmark, Finland, Italy, Turkey, Australia, and Belgium which also celebrate Mother's Day on the second Sunday of May.

Happy Mother's Day to all, in all countries, in all parts of the world!


Shelina said...

Happy Mother's Day to you. Yet another interesting history lesson. Julia is also the one who started the Girl Scouts, isn't she?

Michele Bilyeu said...

Answering publically so everyone can know you are absolutely correct! She also started the Girl Scouts! Some women just like to do it all! I don't know if she quilted, however ;)....

SuBee said...

Gotta love Julia - that girl was waaaay ahead of her time!
Mappy Mothers Day, Toots!

Finn said...

Hi Michele, and a belated Happy Mother's Day to you..*VBS* It's a lovely post. Some of the facts I knew, but not the exact dates. Always fun to learn more about such an interesting subject. The whole suffergette movement fascinates me. And what disturbs me is that most of our daughters don't know that as recently as 1915 when my Mom was born, women still didn't have the vote. Some how you today takes sooo much for granted. Thanks for a great lesson about a excellent holiday. Hugs, Finn