Mother’s Day is a Century Old!

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MAMA MIA – Mother’s Day is a Century Old!

“I am sure that if the mothers of various nations could meet,

there would be no more wars.”

–E.M. Forster


            Have you planned the dinner? Signed the card? Sent the flowers? If not, get a move on, because Mother’s Day is this weekend – the official, 100th anniversary of the holiday!

Do you know the history of Mother’s Day? Granted, EVERY day should be Mother’s Day because without Mom (whether Mom, Grandma, Mentor, Sister, Friend) we can become rudderless. Moms are our internal compass, that little person on our shoulder whispering in our ear, the voice of whom we hear in our heads when an important decision is necessary. You know exactly what I mean, don’t you?


“Most mothers are instinctive philosophers.”

–Harriet Beecher Stowe


Here’s a super-short Mom’s Day history…

Mother’s Daydates back centuries. Celebration of the mother figure in the form of goddesses – especially the Earth goddesses such as the Egyptian Isis, the Roman Cybele, and the Greek Rhea – were paid special homage in thanks of bringing the Earth back to life every Spring in the form of flowers.

In other forms and in other countries Mother’s Day was celebrated. For example, in 1600s England, on the fourth Sunday of Lent, it was decreed that “Mothering Sunday” be held in honor of mothers of all classes, and so families could gather without stress. It also meant that a one-day reprieve from fasting (during Lent) was given to families, so mothers could celebrate with their children in a large feast.

Julia Ward Howe (born 1819), a New York city-bred poet and activist in the suffrage and abolitionist movements, was the woman who sowed the seeds of Mother’s Day in the United States. It was Howe who, during a visit to a Union army encampment during the Civil War, heard soldiers singing, “Jim Brown’s Body.” This inspired her to write a poem that went along to the music. This poem was published as the “Battle Hymn of the Republic,” becoming the patriotic anthem of the Union army – and one that lives on today. In 1870, it was Howe who introduced the “Mother’s Day Proclamation” in honor of mothers and women everywhere – an outgrowth of her involvement in the Suffragist movement as a leading voice in the earliest of Women’s Right Movements.

Although the holiday she wanted failed, Howe had planted the seed of the idea for a Mother’s Day that took root and blossomed into the Mother’s Day known today throughout the world. Anna Reeves Jarvis, who lead a West Virginian woman’s group, decided to celebrate a form of Howe’s holiday, a day where war-divided families could come together: and Mother’s Friendship Day was born. Upon her death, her daughter, Anna M. Jarvis, campaigned for a day dedicated to mothers and to peace. On May 10, 1908, the first official Mother’s Day was adopted and celebrated by Andrew’s Methodist church in West Virginia, and by a church in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Two carnations – Anna Jarvis’ favorite flower – were given out to every mother.

Today, white carnations are given to honor deceased Mothers, while pink or red carnations honor those Mothers who are still alive.

Because of Anna Jarvis’ relentless effort, Mother’s Day spread around the country until President Woodrow Wilson official set aside the second Sunday in May in 1914. This weekend makes it “officially” 100 years old!

Today, over 75 countries around the world celebrate Mother’s Day on the same day as the United States, while many more have Mother’s Day celebrations on different days throughout the year.

Flowers are the most popular Mother’s Day gift (inspired by the ancient goddess celebrations and the precursor gifts of honor in carnations), followed by chocolates and jewelry, and accompanied by cards. In fact, Mother’s Day is the second most popular gift-giving holiday behind Christmas! But don’t let the commercialism detract from the meaning and purpose of the day.

So, how will you be celebrating your Mother or Mothers? Your Mom is the person who may or may not be related by blood. She’s the one who has fed (or still feeds) your spirit, who provides guidance and support, to whom you turn in times of great stress. Whether your mother is alive or has passed on, don’t you see your mother reflected in yourself?


“All women become like their mothers. That is their tragedy.

No man does. That’s his.”

–Oscar Wilde


For women, at least, it is inevitable, I think, especially as we grow older. We begin to look more and more like our parents/mother, and I know from personal experience I sound a lot like my Mom. Not voice-wise, but in what I say and at times, how I act. I stop and think, “I’ve become Mom!” Which is not a bad thing. Instead I say, “When did that happen?” It’s a gradual thing, sneaking up on us when we didn’t expect it. For men, it’s similar. Although they may or may not hear themselves saying things their mothers said, I know they DO hear their mother’s voice in their heads.


“What do girls do who haven’t any mothers to help them through their troubles?”

–Louisa May Alcott

mom trumbull


What Would Mom Do?

Mothers put up with a lot and possess an unbelievable, seemingly fathomless well of patience. As babies, then toddlers, then teenagers and all the things that go along with those stages.

I was, and still am, lucky. My parents let me be whomever I wanted to be, dream impossible dreams, and allowed me to stretch my wings at a young age. That’s not to say they weren’t firm. They were. But they weren’t suffocating. Especially my Mom. With humor, she went through numerous obsessions with boy bands, horses and other foci of my affections. Fortunately, I never got out of hand, because always, always, I’d think, “What would Mom do if I …?” Yeah. That reeled me in most of the time.

So, on this 100th anniversary of the first Mother’s Day, what will you do? How will you honor your mother?

The most important thing to do, above everything else is to say these words:

“Thank you. I love you.”


–Syndee Barwick

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