Happy Mother’s Day to all you moms. Honoring parents is such an important part of Jewish tradition. Of course it is number 5 on God’s top ten list! Honor your father and mother! So I always consider Mother’s Day and Father’s Day important Jewish holidays. But Mothering Day was always a part of ancient religions. A day to honor the idea of mothering was part of Greek religion and was eventually picked up by the early church often in connection with Lent.
Mother’s Day began in America in the aftermath of the Civil War when Julia Ward Howe, author of “The Battle Hymn of the Republic” called for a day of reconciliation and peace. She was a great pacifist and after the bloody carnage of the Civil War a day of peace to honor mother’s was in store. In 1870 she wrote the “Mother’s Day Proclamation”
Arise, then, women of this day!
Arise all women who have hearts,
Whether your baptism be that of water or of tears
“We will not have great questions decided by irrelevant agencies,
Our husbands shall not come to us reeking of 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 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 of ten forsaken the plow 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 then 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 some place 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.
This last about a decade following the Civil War and then as happens often in peace time people’s attention turned to other things.
At the turn of the twentieth century, Anna Reeves Jarvis tried to reinstate this observance. Again connected to moms and the Civil War. The wounds between North and South still wracked the country. Jarvis thought that this observance could bring people together again.
When she died her daughter, Anna M. Jarvis worked to create Mother’s Day as a permanent holiday. The first official Mother’s Day took place at her Methodist Church in Philadelphia in 1908. She worked hard to eventually have Mother’s Day adopted as an official U.S. holiday and in 1914 President Woodrow Wilson signed a bill creating Mother’s Day in the U.S. on the second Sunday of May.
So honor your Mom today and every day! Not just with some flowers or a card… maybe give her the day off, clean the floors or do some of her chores around the house!