Monday, May 5, 2014

Happy 100th Anniversary!

by Kate Collins

Happy Anniversary, Mothers Day!

One hundred years ago this coming Sunday, in 1914, President Woodrow Wilson issued a presidential proclamation that officially established the first national Mother's Day holiday to celebrate America's mothers.

It wasn’t his idea, however. Credit two women for that: Julia Ward Howe (1872) and Anna Jarvis (1907), who both suggested a holiday dedicated to a day of peace.  But actually, the earliest history of Mothers Day dates back to the ancient annual spring festival the Greeks dedicated to maternal goddesses. The Greeks used the occasion to honor Rhea, wife of Cronus and the mother of many deities of Greek mythology. (Oh, those crazy Greeks!)

The idea of an official US celebration however was first suggested by Julia Ward Howe in 1872. An activist and writer, Julia is best known for her famous Civil War song, "Battle Hymn of the Republic". She suggested that June 2nd be celebrated as Mothers Day and should be dedicated to peace. Her idea went unnoticed, however, until Anna Jarvis came along.

Anna is recognized as the true founder of Mothers Day because she worked tirelessly for it, rallying supporters and lobbying people in power for the official declaration of a Mothers Day holiday until she drew enough attention to it that by 1911, Mother's Day was celebrated in almost every state in the Union. Finally on May 8, 1914, President Woodrow Wilson signed a Joint Resolution designating the second Sunday in May as Mother's Day.

In his first Mother's Day proclamation, Wilson stated that the holiday offered a chance to "[publicly express] our love and reverence for the mothers of our country."

Isn't it telling that it took two women to get mothers some recognition.

In my family, when my mother was alive, we would all gather at the restaurant of her choosing, children, grandchildren, and spouses of children, to honor her. Now, with our own children grown and scattered, my siblings and I celebrate separately. Sometimes we cook out, with my children doing the food prep and grilling; sometimes we go out to eat. This year, I’ll let them surprise me.

What are your plans for Sunday? Do you make a big deal of it or keep it low-keyed? Is it a big family gathering or small and intimate? Or maybe you and your family of friends get together to celebrate.

However it works out, I wish you a very happy Mother's Day.

And P.S. Happy Cinco de Mayo, too!



Sources: www.mothersdaycelebration.com; www.history.com