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THE RELIGION CORNER: The History of Mother’s Day

It is my pleasure to wish every mother out there a Happy Mother’s Day weekend. May your children and loved ones smother you with love for all of the good that a mother must be to her children and family! I’m always excited about Mother’s Day because my birthday, May 6, falls around the same time. This year, I’ve already been blessed with the best of gifts! One is just being healthy. Another is being grateful to my children and each of their families for the love they pour into me — flowers, gifts, spa day, you name it. Thank you.

The Bible asks us to honor and love our mothers. It says so in Exodus 20:12 (“Honor your father and your mother”) and in Leviticus 19:3 (“Every one of you shall revere his mother and his father”).

“Strength and dignity are her clothing, and she laughs at the time to come. She opens her mouth with wisdom, and the teaching of kindness is on her tongue. She looks well to the ways of her household and does not eat the bread of idleness.” — Proverbs 31:25-28

This week, I feel compelled to share just a bit of history of how and why Mother’s Day began in the first place. According to history.com, Mother’s Day began with celebrations of mothers and motherhood. Traced back to the ancient Greeks and Romans, with festivals in honor of the mother goddesses Rhea and Cybele, but the clearest modern precedent for Mother’s Day is the early Christian festival known as “Mothering Sunday.”

Once a major tradition in the United Kingdom and parts of Europe, this celebration fell on the fourth Sunday in Lent and was originally seen as a time when the faithful would return to their main church in the vicinity of their home for a special service.

Over time, the Mothering Sunday tradition, with families worshipping with mother, shifted to the more secular Mother’s Day, as children presented their mothers with flowers and other tokens of appreciation.

Ann Reeves Jarvis and Julia Ward Howe are credited with starting this tradition in the United States. According to history.com, the origins of Mother’s Day as celebrated in the United States date back to the 19th century. In the years before the Civil War, Ann Reeves Jarvis of West Virginia helped start “Mothers’ Day Work Clubs” to teach local women how to properly care for their children.

These clubs later became a unifying force in a region of the country still divided over the Civil War. For those of you not so familiar with the Civil War, it began April 12, 1861, and ended April 8, 1865. In 1868, Jarvis organized “Mothers’ Friendship Day,” at which mothers gathered with former Union and Confederate soldiers to promote reconciliation. After all, they had fought against one another for four years, and hundreds of thousands of people were killed.

According to history.com, the intense combat left between 620,000 and 750,000 soldiers dead, along with an undetermined number of civilians, making it our deadliest conflict until the Vietnam War. Therefore, this was the best time to bring mothers together for the cause of celebrating them.

Another precursor to our traditional Mother’s Day came from the abolitionist and suffragette Julia Ward Howe, who in 1870 wrote the “Mother’s Day Proclamation,” a call to action that asked mothers to unite in promoting world peace. In 1873, Howe campaigned for a “Mother’s Peace Day” to be celebrated every June 2.

I’m sure there are other stories about Mother’s Day out there, but regardless of how and why it began, it truly is a tradition that takes on its own life for mothers each year. Our mothers will forever be the only ones who gave birth to us — whether you believe she was good or bad, she will forever be your mother. Happy Mother’s Day!

Lyndia Grant is a speaker/writer living in the D.C. area. Her radio show, “Think on These Things,” airs Fridays at 6 p.m. on 1340 AM (WYCB), a Radio One station. To reach Grant, visit her website, www.lyndiagrant.com, email lyndiagrantshowdc@gmail.com or call 240-602-6295. Follow her on Twitter @LyndiaGrant and on Facebook.

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Lyndia Grant

A seasoned radio talk show host, national newspaper columnist, and major special events manager, Lyndia is a change agent. Those who experience hearing messages by this powerhouse speaker are changed forever!

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