While countries around the world celebrate Mother’s Day on different dates of the year, in several countries, including the United States, Italy, Australia, Belgium, Denmark, Finland, and Turkey, it is celebrated on the second Sunday in May.
The origins of the official holiday in the United States date back to 1870, when Julia Ward Howe, abolitionist best remembered as the poet who wrote “The Anthem of the Battle of the Republic,” set out to establish a ‘Mother’s Day to promote peace. ” Howe dedicated the celebration to the eradication of war and hosted the parties in Boston for many years.
In 1907, Philadelphian Anna Jarvis launched a campaign for Mother’s Day to be officially recognized, which President Woodrow Wilson did in 1914, proclaiming a national holiday and a “public expression of our love and reverence for all mothers. “
Today’s commercialized celebration of candy, flowers, gift certificates, and fancy restaurant dinners bears little resemblance to Howe’s original vision. That is not a bad thing. But for the record, here is the proclamation she wrote in 1870, which explains, in her own passionate words, the original goals of the holiday.
“Stand up, women of today! Stand up all you who have hearts, be it your baptism of water or tears! Say firmly:” We will not allow great matters to be decided by irrelevant agencies. Our husbands will not come back to us stinking to slaughter, in search of caresses and applause.
Our children will not be taken away to unlearn all that we have been able to teach them about charity, compassion, and patience. We women from one country will have too much compassion for those from another country to allow our children to train to hurt their own. ’’
From the bosom of the devastated land, a voice rises with ours. She says’ Disarm! Disarm! ‘ The sword of murder is not the scales of justice. Blood does not cleanly dishonor, nor is violence a sign of possession. “
Just as men have often left the plow and anvil for the call to war, so women have already left all that remains of their home for a great and serious day of counseling. Let them come together first, as women, to commemorate and mourn for the dead. May they be solemnly advised on how the great human family can live in peace, each bearing in his time the sacred impression, not of Caesar, but God.
“In the name of motherhood and humanity, I solemnly ask that a general congress of women is appointed, regardless of nationality, and that it take place in a convenient place, as soon as possible, to promote the alliance of different nationalities, the amicable settlement of international questions and the great universal cause of peace.
Julia Ward Howe (1819-1910)