Thoughts on Mother’s Day

shutterstock_72598048Let’s start by declaring that Mother’s Day is not a Hallmark holiday, despite the fact that it is the darling of card-makers, chocolatiers and jewelers.

It began in the 1850s in West Virginia, where the mother of Anna Jarvis, who is generally credited with the establishment of Mother’s Day, held Mother’s Day groups to fight infant mortality – mostly caused by disease and contaminated milk. The women of these groups also tended to wounded soldiers from both sides during the Civil War. They would organise Mother’s Day picnics and other activities to support pacifist causes and work to further the cause of peace between the warring sides.

Anna Jarvis began holding Mother’s Day observances in 1908 in honour of her own mother, who had died in 1905. The idea was that people would go home and thank their own mother for everything that she had done for them. It was not meant as a celebration of motherhood in general, and Anna Jarvis soon found herself fighting against the commercialisation of her brainchild. She died in a sanatorium in 1948, having spent her life trying to bring Mother’s Day back to its simple and loving roots.

If, like many people, you are not a fan of our current version of Mother’s Day, consider going back to Anna Jarvis’s original concept. You don’t need to spend money on cards or overpriced brunches, or to feel miserable because your mother is gone, or because you are not a mother yourself.

Consider supporting a social cause in your mother’s honour, and if you are fortunate enough to be able to tell your mother that you love her, you may find that that is the best gift of all. Anna Jarvis would approve.

Source: National Geographic, Brian Handwerk, Mother’s Day Turns 100: Its Surprisingly Dark History.

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