Monday, May 14, 2012

Mother's Day

Exodus 20:12 Honor your father and your mother, so that you may live long in the land the Lord your God is giving you.

Did you know that the three highest attended Sundays in North America is Christmas, Easter and Mother's Day?

Did you also know that one of the lowest attended Sundays in North America is Father's Day? That's another thought for June.

Do you know the history of Mother's Day?

Mother's Day, in one form or another, has been around a long time.  In Ancient Greece, a celebration honoring mothers occurred every Spring. In the Middle Ages, a custom called Mothering Sunday began when children who often left home early to learn a trade or become an apprentice, would be released from work every year on the fourth Sunday of Lent to attend church with families.  As they returned home, they often took cakes or little gifts to their mothers.  This was termed "going-a-mothering." To this day, Mother's Day in the United Kingdom is celebrated on the fourth Sunday of Lent.

It was in 1872 that Julia Ward Howe suggested the idea of Mother's Day in the United States.  The cause was taken up by Anna Jarvis, a pastor's daughter.   She felt the scars of the Civil War could be healed by mothers--and by honoring mothers.  She died in 1905 before her dream of establishing a holiday could be fulfilled.  But her daughter, also named Anna, took up the cause.
Anna had been deeply influenced by her mother, and she often recalled hearing her mother say that she hoped someone would one day establish a memorial for all mothers, living and dead. Anna had been particularly touched at twelve while listening to her mother teach a Sunday school class on the subject, "Mothers in the Bible."  Mrs. Jarvis closed the lesson with a prayer to this effect:  I hope and pray that someone, sometime, will found a memorial mother's day.  There are many days for men, but none for mothers. Anna never forgot that moment, and at their mother's  graveside service, Anna's brother Claude heard her say …"by the grace of God, you shall have that Mother's Day." Anna thus began a campaign to establish a national Mother's Day.  She and her supporters began to write a constant stream of letters to ministers, businessmen, politicians and newspaper editors.  She spent a fortune trying to attract attention to her idea, and took every opportunity to give speeches, send telegrams, or write articles promoting her cause.

On the second anniversary of her mother's death, May 12, 1907, Anna led a small tribute to her mother at Andrews Methodist Episcopal Church in Gafton, West Virginia.  She donated five hundred white carnations, her mother's favorite flower, to be worn by everyone in attendance.  On this first Mother's Day service, the pastor used the text, "Woman behold thy son: Son, behold thy mother." (John 19:26)  That same day a special service was held at the Wannamaker Auditorium in Philadelphia, which could seat no more than a third of the fifteen thousand people who showed up.
After that, things begin to take off.  Various states jumped on the bandwagon, officially proclaiming a Mother's Day each year, and, in 1914, President Woodrow Wilson officially established Mother's Day, a national holiday to be held on the second Sunday of May.

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