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May 9, 2006 > Mother's Day

Mother's Day

by Pushpa Warrier

"My mother was the most beautiful woman I ever saw. All I am I owe to my mother. I attribute all my success in life to the moral, intellectual and physical education I received from her." -- George Washington (1732-1799)

Originally conceived by Julia Ward Howe after the American Civil War as a day to honor the inherent pacifism and disarmament of mothers, Mother's Day was observed mainly by women's peace groups. One common activity was the meeting of mothers whose sons had fought or died on opposite sides of the American Civil War.

Today, Mother's Day simply celebrates motherhood and thanking mothers. Mothers often receive gifts on this day. Tradition calls for wearing roses or carnations on Mother's Day - red if one's mother is alive, white if she has died, and pink if one is not certain.

Mother's Day is celebrated on various days of the year in different countries due to the number of origins. One school of thought claims this day emerged from a custom of mother worship in ancient Greece. Mother worship - which kept a festival to Cybele, a great mother of gods, and Rhea, the wife of Cronus - was held around the Vernal Equinox in Asia Minor and eventually in Rome from the Ides of March (March 15) to March 18.

In most countries, Mother's Day is a new concept copied from western civilization. In many African countries, Mother's Day copied the British concept. In most of East Asia, Mother's Day is a heavily marketed and commercialized concept as it is in the United States.

Julia Ward Howe wrote the original Mother's Day Proclamation in 1870, as a call for peace and disarmament. An excerpt follows:

From the voice 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 our 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...

Howe failed in her attempt to receive formal recognition of a Mother's Day for Peace. Her idea was influenced by Anna Jarvis, a young Appalachian homemaker who, starting in 1858, attempted to improve sanitation through what she called Mothers' Work Days. She organized women throughout the Civil War to work for better sanitary conditions for both sides, and in 1868 began work to reconcile Union and Confederate neighbors.

Jarvis' daughter, also named Anna Jarvis, would, of course, have known of her mother's work, and the work of Howe. Much later, when her mother died, the second Anna Jarvis started her own crusade to found a memorial day for women. The first such Mother's Day was celebrated in Grafton, West Virginia, on May 10, 1908, in the church where the elder Anna Jarvis had taught Sunday school. Grafton is the home to the International Mother's Day Shrine. From there, the custom caught on - spreading eventually to 45 states. The holiday was declared official by some states beginning in 1912. In 1914 President Woodrow Wilson declared the first national Mother's Day.
Mothering Sunday in the United Kingdom falls on the fourth Sunday of Lent (typically March or early April); it is commonly called "Mother's Day" but has no direct connection to the American custom. It is believed to have originated from the Christian practice of visiting ones mother's church annually; this meant that most families would be reunited on this day. Most historians believe that young apprentices and young women in servitude were released by their masters that weekend in order to visit their families.

Mother's Day is a busy time of year for mail in many countries. In 1973, the U.S. Postal Service was delayed for eight days because of the number of letters and cards.

Mother's day in Muslim countries especially by Shiaas' is celebrated as the birthday of the Prophet Mohammad's daughter, Fatemeh. This day, also known as Women's Day follows the lunar calendar and changes every year in solar calendars.

 In the United States, Mother's Day is celebrated on the second Sunday of May.

Mother's Day events around the Tri-Cities:

Friday, May 12
Newark Senior Mother's Day Tea $R
11:45 a.m. - 1:30 p.m.
Special lunch in honor of Mother's Day.
Newark Senior Center
7401 Enterprise Dr., Newark
(510) 742-4840

Saturday, May 13
Mothers' Tea R
1 - 4 p.m.
Tea, scones and sandwiches.
Ardenwood Historic Farm
34600 Ardenwood Blvd., Fremont
(510) 636-1684

Sunday, May 14
Color Me Mine of Fremont
Free Studio Fee for Mom on Mother's Day. Call the studio to reserve a table.
Color Me Mine of Fremont
43301 Mission Blvd., Fremont
(510) 226-6983

Sunday, May 14
Sisters of the Holy Family Mother's Day Champagne Brunch
Champagne brunch, have your family's free portrait taken.
11:00 a.m. and 1:30 p.m.
Best House and Garden
159 Washington Blvd., Fremont
(510) 624-4512 for reservations and information.
Sunday, May 14
Throw Mama ON the Train
Call for time
Enjoy a special Mother's Day on the Niles Canyon Railway.
Sunol Depot, 6 Kilkare Road , Sunol
(408) 249-2953

Monday, May 15
Mother's Day Pancake Breakfast
9 a.m.
Breakfast by the Knights of Columbus.
Ruggieri Senior Center
33997 Alvarado Niles Rd., Union City
(510) 489-6629

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