Different countries celebrate Mother’s Day on various days of the year because the day has a number of different origins. (In the country of my birth, Hungary, it is celebrated on the first Sunday in May.)
In Canada and the U.S. we celebrate Mother’s Day on the second Sunday in May. This day was loosely inspired by the British day and was first proclaimed by American social activist, poet and abolitionist Julia Ward Howe in 1870 with her Mother’s Day Proclamation, which was intended as a call to unite women against war and as a call for peace and disarmament — 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. Today, the proclamation is included in the Unitarian Universalist hymnal, Singing the Living Tradition.
Howe failed in her attempt to get formal recognition of a Mother’s Day for Peace. Her idea was influenced by Ann Jarvis, a young Appalachian homemaker who, starting in 1858, had attempted to improve sanitation through what she called Mothers’ Work Days. She organized women throughout the Civil War to work for better sanitary conditions for both sides, and in 1868 she began work to reconcile Union and Confederate neighbours. In parts of the United States it is customary to plant tomatoes outdoors after Mother’s Day (and not before).
I have always associated Mother’s Day with Julia Ward Howe although she is also famous as the author of “The Battle Hymn of the Republic.”
Mother’s Day Proclamation
Arise, then, women of this day!
Arise, all women who have hearts,
Whether our baptism be of water or of tears!
“We will not have great questions decided by irrelevant agencies,
Our husbands will not come to us, reeking with carnage, for caresses and applause.
Our sons shall not be taken from us to unlearn
All that we have been able to teach them of charity, mercy and patience.
We, the women of one country, will be too tender of those of another country
To allow our sons to be trained to injure theirs.”
From the bosom of the devastated Earth a voice goes up with our own.
It says: “Disarm! Disarm! The sword of murder is not the balance of justice.”
Blood does not wipe out dishonor, nor violence indicate possession.
As men have often forsaken the plough and the anvil at the summons of war,
Let women now leave all that may be left of home for a great and earnest day of counsel.
Let them meet first, as women, to bewail and commemorate the dead.
Let them solemnly take counsel with each other as to the means
Whereby the great human family can live in peace,
Each bearing after his own time the sacred impress, not of Caesar,
But of God.
In the name of womanhood and humanity, I earnestly ask
That a general congress of women without limit of nationality
May be appointed and held at someplace deemed most convenient
And at the earliest period consistent with its objects,
To promote the alliance of the different nationalities,
The amicable settlement of international questions,
The great and general interests of peace.
Mother’s Day is now the most popular day of the year to dine out at a restaurant in the United States.
So while we’re out enjoying time with dear Mom, let us remember the words of Julia Ward Howe’s Mother’s Day Manifesto and resolve to work toward PEACE… And a happy Mother’s Day to all the mothers out there!! God bless and keep you safe, well, and loved…