Mother’s Day, it’s not meant to be a Hallmark holiday
This Sunday we celebrate Mother’s Day.
A brief history
The traditional practice of honouring Motherhood started in ancient times.
Back then the rites had strong symbolic and spiritual overtones, as societies tended to celebrate Goddesses and Symbols of Motherhood, rather than actual Mothers as we do today.
The personal and family observance of Mother’s Day is fairly new, as it’s only been the last few hundred years that celebrations of Motherhood developed its human touch.
Some examples throughout history record that ancient Egyptians celebrated with an annual festival to honour their Mother deity, the Goddess Isis.
The Ancient Greeks held an annual spring festival dedicated to Rhea, the mother of many deities.
Christians in Europe celebrated this festival on the fourth Sunday in Lent in honour of Mary, mother of Christ.
England in the 17th Century issued a clerical decree which broadened the celebration from one focused on the church and the Virgin Mary, to include real Mothers, referring to the occasion as Mothering Day.
The first North American Mother’s Day was conceptualized by Julia Ward Howe’s Mother’s Day Proclamation in 1870.
She had become so distraught by the death and carnage of the Civil War that she called on Mother’s to come together and protest what she saw as the futility of their Sons killing the Sons of other Mothers.
Following this Anna Jarvis, committed to finding a way to pay tribute to not only her own mother (who gave birth to numerous children) but all mothers, worldwide and bring Mother’s Day to life.
Her efforts were initially met with disinterest but she was not dissuaded. Finally, after enlisting the help of a Philadelphia philanthropist, John Wanamaker, Jarvis was able to breathe new life into the movement.
Two years later, her home state of West Virginia became the first to recognize a day set aside to honour mothers. Four years later, in 1914, the President Woodrow Wilson signed a proclamation creating Mother’s Day, a national holiday, to be celebrated every year on the second Sunday in May.
Retail takes over
Later Anna Jarvis was appalled by the monster she created. She believed that the Mother’s Day sentiment was being sacrificed at the expense of greed and profit. She became irritated over the corruption of her mother’s idea and the exploitation of the sentiment that she worked to have it rescinded.
Luckily, she did not.
Motherhood is celebrated in various ways and different times in other countries around the world.
Mother’s Day in Australia
But it was not until 1924, following the losses of World War I, that Mother’s Day was first held in Australia.
Sydney woman Janet Heyden started the tradition after becoming concerned for the lonely, forgotten aged mothers at Newington State Hospital where she regularly visited a friend.
She successfully campaigned for local schools and businesses to donate gifts to the ladies.
According to a Professor Waterhouse “There were so many mothers who were no longer mothers, so many wives who were now widowed because of WW1, and there were also so many women who never had the prospect of becoming mothers or wives because a whole generation of young men had been wiped out in the trenches of the Western Front,”.
Today, Mother’s Day is a billion-dollar industry in Australia
While Mother’s Day initially began to promote peace and support women, over the years it has become an occasion for family reunions in Australia.
In fact, the second Sunday of May has become the most popular day of the year to dine out, and telephone lines record their highest traffic, as sons and daughters everywhere take advantage of this day to honour and to express appreciation of their mothers.
Whatever you are up to on the day…
Wishing a Happy Mother’s Day to you…
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