Happy Mother’s Day.

While you are busily ordering those roses through 1-800-FLOWERS, have you ever thought about where this holiday came from and why we make a big deal out of this day?
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It began as a Greek festival to honor Rhea, the wife of Cronus and the mother of many deities of Greek mythology, as an annual spring festival and an excuse to drink a lot. Ancient Romans, too, celebrated a spring festival, called Hilaria dedicated to Cybele, a mother goddess. It may be noted that ceremonies in honour of Cybele began some 250 years before Christ was born. The celebration made on the Ides of March by making offerings in the temple of Cybele lasted for three days and included parades, games, and masquerades. The celebrations were notorious enough that followers of Cybele were banished from Rome. Which is all we can hope for as the ultimate destiny of Reality TV.
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The more recent history of Mothers Day dates back to 1600s in England. Here a Mothering Sunday was celebrated annually on the fourth Sunday of Lent (the 40 day period leading up to Easter) to honor mothers. After a prayer service in church to honor Virgin Mary (oddly), children brought gifts and flowers to pay tribute to their own mothers. On that occasion, servants, apprentices and other employees staying away from their homes were encouraged by their employers to visit their mothers and honor them. Traditionally children brought with them gifts and a special fruit cake or fruit-filled pastry, which might have been the origin of holiday fruitcake, (later to be re-gifted come Christmas).
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But, in this country, Julia Ward Howe was the first person to promote a day to celebrate Motherhood and to pave the road for an official Mother’s Day holiday in the U.S., when, in 1870, she wrote a now mostly forgotten proclamation. The first Mother’s Day was celebrated in Boston in 1872 on the second Sunday in June as the Mother’s Peace Day Observance.
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Julia Ward Howe is also famous as the writer of the Civil War song, ‘The Battle Hymn of the Republic“.
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We would do well to think about her proclamation on this Mother’s Day:

Arise, then, women of this day! Arise all women who have hearts, whether your baptism be of water or of tears! Say firmly: “We will not have 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 to those of another country to allow our sons to be trained to injure theirs.”From the bosom of a 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 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 solemnly take counsel with each other as to the means whereby the great human family can live in peace, each bearing after his 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 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.

Julia Ward Howe
Boston 1870 

About Steve King

iPeopleFINANCE™ Chief Operating Officer. Former CEO of Endymion Systems, Inc. a $36m Information Systems Services company. Co-founder of the Cambridge Systems Group, the creator of ACF2, the leading IBM Mainframe Data Center Security product; acquired by Computer Associates. IBM, seeCommerce, marchFIRST, Connectandsell alumni. UC Berkeley alumni. View all posts by Steve King

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