Whilst visiting my local shopping mall on the weekend, I couldn’t help but notice the fresh lot of advertising posters that are evident in the shops – Mother’s Day is nearly upon us.
That got me thinking about the meaning behind Mother’s day (or Mothering Sunday in some countries).
Wikipedia quotes it as “a modern celebration honoring the mother of the family.”
The history behind the concept of a day to honor mothers across the world is over a hundred years old, when a young American lady named Anna Jarvis held a memorial for her mother at St Andrew’s Methodist Church, West Virginia (1908 was the date). Anne Reeves Jarvis (Anna’s mother) had been a peace activist during the American Civil War. The church of St Andrews holds the International Mother’s Day Shrine to this day. The then president, Woodrow Wilson, signed a proclamation in 1914 deigning the second Sunday in the month as Mother’s Day.
Ironically, a few years after this (in the 1920’s) Anna Jarvis protested against the commercialism of Mother’s Day as candy companies and card companies (such as Hallmark cards) got on board with selling candy and cards for the day. Anna argued that people should celebrate their own mothers with a simple letter or hand written note. She went so far as to cause a disturbance at a candy bar makers convention in Philadelphia in 1923.
In a world of vast commercialism when everything is now packaged and celebrated (wasn’t Easter just a month ago; I still have chocolate eggs), I have to admire the stoic simplicity of Anna Jarvis.
We all should celebrate Mother’s Day, but rather than just posting a card, handing out chocolates or giving flowers, maybe we could just appreciate mums more; just like Anna Jarvis intended.
Suzanne Bowditch, 2016