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Happy Mother's Day
. . . The Beginning

Larry James

There are conflicting opinions, but most agree that the earliest Mother's Day celebrations occurred in ancient Greece to honor Rhea, the mother of the ancient Greek gods.

During the 17th century, England began to celebrate "Mothering Sunday." The name evolved from the custom of baking a special cake, called a mothering cake, to take on visits to mother. Today in England, Mothering Sunday is celebrated on the 4th Sunday of Lent (the 40-day period leading up to Easter).

In the United States, Julia Ward Howe suggested the idea of Mother's Day in 1872. Howe, who wrote the words to the Battle Hymn of the Republic, saw Mother's Day as a day dedicated to peace after having lived through the horrors of the United States' Civil War.

The first known observance of Mother's Day in America occurred in Albion, Michigan on the second Sunday in May, 1877. It was the actions of an Albion Pioneer woman, Juliet Calhoun Blakeley, that set Mother's Day in motion. Two days before her 59th birthday on May 11, 1877, three young men, all sons of staunch temperance advocates, were found drunk on the streets of Albion's business district. They had been the victims of anti-temperance shenanigans. Happy Mother's Day
One of the young men was the son of the pastor of the local Methodist Episcopal Church. On Sunday (Mrs. Blakeley's birthday) the pastor was so distraught that he had to leave the pulpit before the services were concluded. Mrs. Blakeley, sitting near the front, stepped to the pulpit to take over the remainder of the service and called other mothers to join her.

Mrs. Blakeley's sons, Charles C. and Moses A. were travelling salesmen. They were so moved by her gesture that they vowed to return to Albion every year to mark their mother's birthday anniversary and to pay tribute to her.

Luv U Mom In addition, the two brothers made it a practice to urge business associates and those they met on the road to honor their mothers accordingly on the second Sunday of May.

Because of the brothers urgings, the Methodist Episcopal Church in Albion set aside the second Sunday of each May to pay special recognition to mothers, and especially to Juliet Calhoun Blakeley "The Original Mother of Mother's Day", early in the 1880s.

Juliet Calhoun Blakeley was born in New York in 1818, the daughter of James Calhoun. Her father's cousin was the statesman John C. Calhoun. Juliet's family came to Michigan and settled near Homer in 1832, but she remained in New York with her grandparents. In 1837, she married Alphonzo Blakeley. They then came to live in Michigan the same year it became a state. After living in Detroit through the winter, they settled in Homer in 1838.

Alphonzo Blakeley was a carpenter, and helped build Wesleyan Seminary, which later became Albion College. Eventually the couple moved to Albion and lived there for many more years. Alphonzo died in 1899 at the age of 92, Moses died in 1900. Mrs. Blakeley died in Albion on Nov. 29, 1920 at the age of 102 years.

In 1908 a movement to set aside a special day each year to honor mothers nationally was intensified, largely through the efforts of Miss Anna Jarvis. Miss Jarvis (1864-1948) of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, is credited by most with bringing about the official observance of Mother's Day in the United States. Miss Jarvis wanted a way to honor her beloved mother, Mrs. Anna Reese Jarvis, who died in 1905.

The idea probably came from Mrs. Jarvis herself, who, in the late 19th century, had tried to establish "Mother's Friendship Days" as a way to help heal the scars of the Civil War. Vase

Anna Jarvis came of age surrounded by Progressive reform efforts. She was raised in the small town of Grafton, West Virginia (now the site of an International Mother's Day Shrine). She taught school in Grafton, cared for her blind sister and her mother, participated in the temperance and suffrage movements, and was active in the local Methodist church.

Her Mother's Day observance, most likely the second American obverance, was a church service held on May 10, 1908 in Grafton, West Virginia, and in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania arranged by Anna Jarvis. At that first service, Miss Jarvis furnished carnations, her mother's favorite flower. She chose white carnations to represent the sweetness, purity and endurance of motherly love. In time, red carnations came to signify that one's mother is living, while white carnations came to mean one's mother has died.

Miss Jarvis was so moved by the service honoring her mother that she began a nation-wide campaign to adopt a formal holiday honoring all mothers. In 1910, West Virginia became the first state to recognize Mother's Day. A year later, nearly every state officially marked the day. In 1914, President Woodrow Wilson officially proclaimed Mother's Day a national holiday to be held on the second Sunday of May.

Almost immediately, Mother's Day became an enormously commercial holiday. Disillusioned by the commercialism, Miss Jarvis spent the rest of her life working diligently to reverse what she played such a major role in creating.

You Are Loved! At one point she filed a lawsuit to stop a 1923 Mother's Day festival and was even arrested for disturbing the peace at a war mothers' convention where women were selling white carnations to raise money.

"This is not what I intended," Jarvis once said. "I wanted it to be a day of sentiment, not profit!" By the time she died in 1948 at age 84, Miss Jarvis, who was never married and had no children, had spent all of her money unsuccessfully trying to stop the commercialization of the holiday she worked so hard to found.

Today, more than 46 countries honor mothers with a special day, but not all nations celebrate on the same day. Some countries, such as Denmark, Finland, Italy, Turkey, Australia and Belgium are among those who also celebrate Mother's Day on the second Sunday in May, the same day it is celebrated in the United States.

Today, most of us celebrate Mother's Day with little awareness of how it began. But we can identify with the respect, love and honor that Anna Jarvis displayed nearly a century ago. Women, especially mothers, face face new challenges in society today, but motherhood remains a lasting influence on us as individuals and as a nation.

The International Mother's Day is always May 11. In the U.S., there is even an official Mother's-In-Law-Day -- the fourth Sunday in October.

My Mother's Day celebration is dedicated to the memory of Mary N. Jarvis, my mom, who is sorely missed.

Copyright © - Larry James.

50 Ways To Love Your Mother - Jane Monachelli - Gift ideas for aging parents when all they need is love. This book is a resource for baby boomers who's aging parents are moving into or live in down sized living spaces. Complete with websites and 800 numbers to order the gifts.

Larry's Review: Terrific ideas for an aging mother. Thoughtful ways to say, "I love you" to your mom!

The Images of Mother

4 years of age  -  My Mommy can do anything!
8 years of age  -  My Mom knows a lot! A whole lot!
12 years of age  -  My Mother doesn't really know quite everything.
14 years of age  -  Naturally, Mother doesn't know that, either.
16 years of age  -  Mother? She's hopelessly old-fashioned.
18 years of age  -  That old woman? She's way out of date!
25 years of age  -  Well, she might know a little bit about it.
35 years of age  -  Before we decide, let's get Mom's opinion.
45 years of age  -  Wonder what Mom would have thought about it?
65 years of age  -  Wish I could talk it over with Mom. - Send your Mom a very special Mother's Day greeting card.

Read "A Strawberry Malt and Three Squeezes, Please," a true story written to honor the memory of Larry's mother.

Happy Mother's Day

Say, "I love you" by sending flowers to your mom for Mother's Day or any other occasion. Click here.

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