Saturday, 9 May 2009

Mother's Day

May 10th is observed as Mother’s Day in these United States.

Mother’s Day is not to be confused with “Mothering Sunday”, which is observed on the Fourth Sunday of Lent in most countries of the former British Empire.


“Mothering Sunday” has a quasi-religious origin (Google”Mothering Sunday” for more information), though, at least in the United Kingdom, it is nowadays referred to as “Mother’s Day” – yet still observed on Lent IV - which means that it is on a different date each year.

The American “Mother’s Day” is rooted in a proclamation by Julia Ward Howe the author of “The Battle Hymn of the Republic”.


It was a plea for peace after the carnage of the American Civil War. (I have included it below).

Julia Ward Howe’s plea for peace has been all but forgotten. So it is that our stores are filled with Mother’s Day kitsch, and the restaurants will be filled on May 10th.


I suppose that the sentiment is alright in its own way, but “Mother’s Day” can be a less than great time for those:


whose mothers have died.
whose mothers were cruel and abusive.
whose mothers were strict and unyielding.
whose mothers were themselves abused by their fathers or husbands.



It is also a brutal day for mothers whose children have died. And for those mothers whose children are utterly neglectful, spiteful or mean.

Perhaps the day could be redeemed by a solemn re-commitment to Julia Ward Howe’s plea for peace.


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!


Say firmly:"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 countryTo 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.

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That was Julia Ward Howe's vision for Mother's Day.


Sadly, it is not ours.

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