Sunday, 13 May 2018

A history of Mother's Day

As we celebrate this special day honoring all our mothers, I’d like to share with you some historical information of how this celebration came to be. In the seventeenth century, many English children left home to become apprentices, often with masters far from their homes. But on the fourth Sunday of Lent, children were sent home to spend the day with their mothers. The vacation became known as "Mothering Sunday." The children often took a fruity "mothering cake" back with them, baked by their mother (which, because of the Lenten fast, had to keep until Easter). 
Mothering Sunday never really caught on in the New World, and as the practice of apprenticeship began to die out, so did Mothering Sunday. It blended with a more Continental European celebration of "Mother Church." A common practice on this day was to visit the church of one's baptism. Setting aside a special day to honor physical mothers was, for the most part, forgotten. In 1872, Julia Ward Howe, who had published her "Battle Hymn of the Republic" a decade earlier, suggested a Mother's Day as a kind of protest to the violence of the Civil War.
Then Anna Jarvis, of Grafton, West Virginia wanted to arrange a special church service for her mother in 1907. Her mother, who had died two years earlier, had been an important figure at the Andrews Methodist Church, had lost seven of her 11 children, and had given up her dreams of a college education to care for her aging and ailing husband. The service was so delightful that Anna Jarvis soon wrote letters to everyone she could think of: politicians, newspaper editors, church leaders, etc. She wanted it to be near her family on that special day, while remembering her own mother.
She distributed white carnations in memory of the deceased mothers and red carnations to honor those still living. In 1910, Jarvis's state had officially recognized the holiday. A year later, almost every other state joined the celebration. In 1914, Woodrow Wilson made it a national holiday to be celebrated each second Sunday of May. It may please some to know that by the late 1920s, Jarvis was upset and angry at the commercialization of the celebration. Already greeting card companies had made it the fourth largest card holiday in the calendar. Jarvis filed a lawsuit to stop a 1923 Mother's Day festival, and was later arrested for disturbing the peace when confronting carnation salespeople. "I wanted it to be a day of sentiment, not profit!" she protested. Ironically, when Anna Jarvis died at age 82 in 1948, she was sorry she'd ever started the holiday. And she never became a mother herself. But today, we wish a very Happy Mother’s Day to all mothers, as well as Grandmothers, Godmothers, Step-mothers and Foster-mothers, as we also pray for those mothers who died during this past year.

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