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MOTHER’S DAY Mother’s Day Around the World The modern Mother’s Day is celebrated on various days in many parts of the world, most commonly in March, April, or May as a day to honor mothers and motherhood. Celebrations of mothers and motherhood occur throughout the world; many of these can be traced back to ancient festivals, like the Greek cult to Cybele or the Roman festival of Hilaria. The modern US-celebration of Mother’s Day is not directly related to these. One of the early calls to celebrate a Mother’s Day in the United States was the “Mother’s Day Proclamation” by Julia Ward Howe. Written in 1870, it was a pacifist reaction to the carnage of the American Civil War and the Franco-Prussian War. The Proclamation was tied to Howe’s feminist belief that women had a responsibility to shape their societies at the political level. International Women’s Day was celebrated for the first time in 28 February 1909, in the US, by which time Anna Jarvis had already begun her national campaign in the US. It is now celebrated in many countries on March 8. In most countries, Mother’s Day is a recent observance derived from the holiday as it has evolved in America. When it was adopted by other countries and cultures, it was given different meanings, associated to different events (religious, historical or legendary), and celebrated in a different date or dates. Some countries already had existing celebrations honoring motherhood, and their celebrations have adopted several external characteristics from the US holiday, like giving carnations and other presents to your own mother. The extent of the celebrations varies greatly. In some countries, it is potentially offensive to one’s mother not to mark Mother’s Day. In others, it is a little-known festival celebrated mainly by immigrants, or covered by the media as a taste of foreign culture (compare the celebrations of Diwali in the UK and the United States). In the Catholic Church, the holiday is strongly associated with reverencing the Virgin Mary. In Hindu tradition it is called “Mata Tirtha Aunshi” or “Mother Pilgrimage fortnight”, and it is celebrated in countries with Hindu population, especially in Nepal. It is celebrated on the new moon day in the month of Baisakh i.e. April/May. This holiday is based in Hindu religion and it pre-dates the creation of the Western-inspired holiday by at least a few centuries. Some Islamic scholars have published fatwas against dedicating a single day to honor mothers, which detracts from honoring them year round as ordered by the Quran. The History of Mother’s Day in the United States of America In the United States, Mother’s Day is an annual holiday celebrated on the second Sunday in May. Mother’s Day recognizes mothers, motherhood and maternal bonds in general, as well the positive contributions that they make to society. The first attempts to establish a “Mother’s Day” in the U.S. were mostly marked by women’s peace groups. A common early activity was the meeting of groups of mothers whose sons had fought or died on opposite sides of the American Civil War. There were several limited observances in the 1870s and the 1880s but none achieved resonance beyond the local level. In 1868 Ann Jarvis created a committee to establish a “Mother’s Friendship Day” whose purpose was “to reunite families that had been divided during the Civil War”, and she wanted to expand it into an annual memorial for mothers, but she died in 1905 before the celebration became popular. Her daughter Anna Jarvis would continue her mother’s efforts. In New York City, Julia Ward Howe led a “Mother’s Day” anti-war observance on June 2, 1872, which was accompanied by a Mother’s Day Proclamation. The observance continued in Boston for about 10 years under Howe’s personal sponsorship, then died out. Several years later a Mother’s Day observance on May 13, 1877 was held in Albion, Michigan over a dispute related to the temperance movement. According to local legend, Albion pioneer Juliet Calhoun Blakeley stepped up to complete the sermon of the Rev. Myron Daughterty who was distraught because an anti-temperance group had forced his son and two other temperance advocates to spend the night in a saloon and become publicly drunk. From the pulpit Blakeley called on other mothers to join her. Blakeley’s two sons, both traveling salesmen, were so moved that they vowed to return each year to pay tribute to her and embarked on a campaign to urge their business contacts to do likewise. At their urging, in the early 1880s, the Methodist Episcopal Church in Albion set aside the second Sunday in May to recognize the special contributions of mothers. Frank E. Hering, President of the Fraternal Order of Eagles, made the first known public plea for “a national day to honor our mothers” in 1904. In its present form, Mother’s Day was established by Anna Marie Jarvis, following the death of her mother Ann Jarvis on May 9, 1905, with the help of Philadelphia merchant John Wanamaker. A small service was held on May 12, 1907 in the Andrew’s Methodist Episcopal Church in Grafton, West Virginia where Anna’s mother had been teaching Sunday school. But the first “official” service was on May 10, 1908 in the same church, accompanied by a larger ceremony in the Wanamaker Auditorium in the Wanamaker’s store on Philadelphia. She then campaigned to establish Mother’s Day first as a U.S. national holiday and then later as an international holiday. The holiday was declared officially by the state of West Virginia in 1910, and the rest of states followed quickly. On May 8, 1914, the U.S. Congress passed a law designating the second Sunday in May as Mother’s Day and requesting a proclamation. On May 9, 1914 President Woodrow Wilson issued a proclamation declaring the first national Mother’s Day as a day for American citizens to show the flag in honor of those mothers whose sons had died in war. In 1934, U.S. President Franklin D. Roosevelt approved a stamp commemorating the holiday. In May 2008 the U.S. House of Representatives voted twice on a resolution commemorating Mother’s Day, the first one being unanimous (with 21 members not voting). The Grafton’s church, where the first celebration was held, is now the International Mother’s Day Shrine and is a National Historic Landmark. The Flower of Choice Carnations have come to represent Mother’s Day, since Anna Jarvis delivered 500 of them at its first celebration in 1908. Many religious services held later copied the custom of giving away carnations. This also started the custom of wearing a carnation on Mother’s Day. The founder, Anna Jarvis, chose the carnation because it was the favorite flower of her mother. In part due to the shortage of white carnations, and in part due to the efforts to expand the sales of more types of flowers in Mother’s Day, the florists promoted wearing a red carnation if your mother was living, or a white one if she was dead; this was tirelessly promoted until it made its way into the popular observations at churches. The Commercialization of Mother’s Day Commercialization of the U.S. holiday began very early, and only nine years after the first official Mother’s Day had became so rampant that Mother’s Day founder Anna Jarvis herself became a major opponent of what the holiday had become, spending all her inheritance and the rest of her life fighting what she saw as an abuse of the celebration. She criticized the practice of purchasing greeting cards, which she saw as a sign of being too lazy to write a personal letter. She was arrested in 1948 for disturbing the peace while protesting against the commercialization of Mother’s Day, and she finally said that she “…wished she would have never started the day because it became so out of control …”. However, Mother’s Day is now one of the most commercially successful U.S. occasions, having become the most popular day of the year to dine out at a restaurant in the United States and generating a significant portion of the U.S. jewelry industry’s annual revenue, from custom gifts like mother’s rings.[21] Americans spend approximately $2.6 billion on flowers, $1.53 billion on pampering gifts—like spa treatments—and another $68 million on greeting cards. Commercialization has ensured that the holiday has continued, when other holidays from the same time, like Children’s Day and Temperance Sunday, do not now have the same level of popularity. ]]]]> ]]>

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