Back in Time is ED’s newspaper-like column that reports an incident from the past as though it had happened just yesterday. It allows the reader to relive it several years later, on the date it had occurred.
May 9, 1914: The entire state of America rejoices as the Honorable President Woodrow Wilson signs a proclamation declaring today as the first-ever national holiday in honour of the mothers of the country. He officially called it Mother’s Day and proclaimed the 2nd Sunday of May as “a public expression of love and reverence for the mothers of the country”.
This became finally possible after five years of constant efforts put forward by Anna Jarvis, daughter of late peace activist, Ann Reeves Jarvis.
40 years ago, Ann Jarvis helped wounded soldiers on both sides of the Civil War and founded Mother’s Day Work Clubs to address public health issues. She and Julia Ward Howe, another peace campaigner and suffragette, had been advocating for the establishment of a “Mother’s Day For Peace,” in which women would plead for their husbands and sons not to be slaughtered in wars.
Ward Howe issued her Mother’s Day Proclamation in 1870, urging mothers of all nations to unite to achieve “amicable settlement of international questions, the great and general interests of peace.”
She was very active in the Andrews Methodist Episcopal Church community as a woman defined by her beliefs. Her daughter, purportedly acquired her inspiration for Mother’s Day during one of her Sunday school lessons in 1876, when Ann finished her lesson with a prayer, stating:
“I hope and pray that someone, sometime, will find a memorial mothers day commemorating her for the matchless service she renders to humanity in every field of life. She is entitled to it.”
Since her mother’s demise, Anna Jarvis sought to recognise this by designating a day to commemorate all mothers, believing that a mother is “the person who has done more for you than anyone in the world.”
On May 12, 1907, she hosted a memorial service for her late mother at Andrews Methodist Episcopal Church, in Grafton, West Virginia, thus marking the first official observance of Mother’s Day.
The United States Congress however rejected a proposal to make Mother’s Day an official holiday in 1908, joking that they would also have to declare “Mother-in-Law’s-Day”. Due to Anna Jarvis’ efforts, all U.S. states celebrated Mother’s Day by 1911, with some of them formally recognising it as a municipal holiday (the first being West Virginia, Jarvis’ home state, in 1910). It is not until today that it finally got countrywide recognition as a national holiday.
Speaking of the celebrations, President Woodrow Wilson proposed the idea of wearing a white carnation as a tribute to our mothers.
The tradition of a day dedicated to honoring mothers can be traced back to the ancient Greeks, who conducted festivals to honor Rhea, the mother of all gods. Similarly, the Phrygians celebrated Cybele, the Great Mother of the Gods, with a feast.
Early Christians observed a Mother’s Day on the fourth Sunday of Lent to honor Mother Mary. The Romans, likewise, transferred the tradition to their own pantheon. Some countries have kept historical holidays alive; in India, for example, Durga-puja, which honors the goddess Durga, is still celebrated.
Also Read: Back In Time: Almost 10 Decades Earlier, Today, The Famous Urdu Poet Mirza Ghalib Passed Away
Mother’s Day, an international holiday honoring mothers, is now observed in more than 50 countries across the world. The modern version of the holiday is celebrated on the second Sunday in May in the United States. Many other countries observe the holiday on this day, while others do it at different periods of the year.
On Laetare Sunday, the fourth Sunday of Lent, the custom of permitting those who had migrated away to visit their home parishes and mothers, evolved during the Middle Ages. In the United Kingdom, this became Mothering Sunday, which has mostly been superseded by Mother’s Day in modern times. In India, it was held on the 8th of May this year.
Despite the fact that Jarvis was successful in inventing Mother’s Day as a liturgical service, she felt resentful at the holiday’s commercialization. Hallmark Cards and other companies began offering Mother’s Day cards in the early 1920s.
Jarvis argued that businesses had misinterpreted and exploited the concept of Mother’s Day, and that the holiday’s focus should have been on sentiment rather than profit. As a response, she organized Mother’s Day boycotts and vowed to file lawsuits against those responsible.
Jarvis stated that instead of buying gifts and pre-made cards, individuals should express their love and gratitude to their moms through handwritten letters.
Jarvis spoke out against the confectionery producers’ convention in Philadelphia in 1923 and the American War Mothers’ meeting in 1925. Carnations had become connected with Mother’s Day by this time, and the American War Mothers’ sale of carnations to collect money enraged Jarvis, who was imprisoned for disturbing the peace.
She spent the final years of her life attempting to eliminate the holiday she herself had created. Her efforts, however, were successful in the British Isles and other English-speaking countries.
Do you think Mother’s Day is a worthy tribute to motherhood or has it just become another fancy day promoting pretentiousness and serving as a means for capital gain? Let us know your thoughts in the comments down below.
Disclaimer: This article has been fact-checked
Sources: Wikipedia, Britannica, National Archives, Office Holidays +more
Image Source: Google Images
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This post is tagged under Mother’s Day, Anna Jarvis, Ann Reeves Jarvis, Mothers’ Day Work Clubs, Andrews Methodist Episcopal Church, International Mother’s Day Shrine, President Woodrow Wilson, United States, Philadelphia, Grafton, West Virginia
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