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Thursday, April 28, 2016

Mother's Day--Past and Present, By Linda Swift @RebeccaJVickery

Mother's Day in the US is only ten days away as if we need to be reminded again. In the stores and online we are accosted with cards, flowers, candy, and other gifts to suit every mother's taste. When and how did it all begin? According to my research, it dates back to ancient Greece and the early spring celebrations in honor of Rhea, Mother of the Gods.
Two women are given credit for our modern day celebration but the dates when it began are inconsistent. Julia Ward Howe began the custom in Boston (1870) with a mothers' day proclamation to unite to promote world peace. The movement lasted for ten years before fading away. The current holiday can also be traced to Ann Reeves Jarvis of West Virginia who introduced a Mothers' Friendship Day in 1878(or 1868) to reunite families divided by the Civil War.
In 1905 upon Ann Reeves Jarvis' death, her daughter Anna launched a campaign to honor her. In 1908 the first "official" Mother's Day celebration was held in St. Andrews Methodist Church in Grafton, West Virginia. This led to President Woodrow Wilson proclaiming the second Sunday in May a national holiday in 1914. Anna Jarvis had sought out florists to donate carnations for mothers attending the first celebration which soon became a commercial project.  She was so upset by this she later filed lawsuits to prevent retailers profiting from the holiday and unsuccessfully lobbied the government to remove its holiday status. Mother's Day now honors a number of other significant females including mothers-in-law, step-mothers, aunts, friends who represent mothers, etc.
The custom of giving or wearing flowers to honor mothers has continued. In time, the red flower came to signify a living mother while the white indicated one deceased. While carnations remain the most popular choice, roses were commonly chosen in my area, probably because they were home-grown and free.
Many countries honor mothers on the same day as the United States, including Canada, Australia, and India. However, the Hindus in India celebrate the Divine Mother (goddess Durga) in a ten day festival in October. The second most popular month is March which the UK has designated at Mothering Sunday. This term was originally a commemoration of the Mother Church and people returning to the church where baptized. Young servants were given a holiday to return to church and family, taking gifts of food and clothing from their employers. Ethiopia and Serbia have a three day celebration to honor mothers. In some countries, Mother's Day is second only to Christmas in importance. Whatever it is called, or however long the celebration, the purpose is universal. We are honoring the one who gave us life in whatever way our customs dictate.
If you celebrate by giving flowers, food, or other gifts on this special day, I hope you will consider a book of poems this holiday.  (Forgive me, Anna Jarvis, for this blatant promotion on the day you tried so hard to keep free of commercials.) I think a mother of any age would enjoy A Potpourri of Poems which includes a variety of forms, subjects, and moods, some of which speak to mothers directly as the one below. The book is available in ebook or large print, both color and black & white. It contains one hundred poems and thirty-three full color pictures in one edition and the same pictures in gray scale in the other. And for those who prefer to listen rather than read, this book is now offered in audible form.
Excerpt from A Potpourri of Poems:
GOODBYE, MY CHILDREN

Goodbye, my children,
if only I …had known that you were going
I would have said goodbye.
But you were very little
And I thought that time would wait
till I saw that the sand had shifted
and the hour was very late.
All the happy times together,
all the things I had planned to do,
were lost when the hourglass tilted
and the childhood days poured through.
For the carefree hours have vanished
as the tiny grains of sand
and the shining glass upended
lies empty in my hand.
Goodbye, my children, if only I
had known that you were going I would have said goodbye.

Check this link for the choices and to read more poems: Link: http://amzn.com/B01DFJJCV0
Find my books here:  http://www.amazon.com/Linda-Swift/e/B004PGXCTQ/ref=ntt_dp_epwbk_0

18 comments:

  1. Good morning. First, I'd like to thank Celia Yeary, one of our "blog tenders" who helped get my post online as I was having blogger problems. I wrote this post with general information about Mother's Day but I'd like to say a few words about my own mother, too. She was 5'8" and beautiful and described by many as a "classy lady." And she was both. She was also a professional seamstress who made all of her own clothes and many for her family and friends. She said when she walked into a fabric shop, her fingers tingled. (I have the same response when I walk into a library.) She was a devoted wife and mother who became a widow at sixty and lived independently until she was ninety when she moved into assisted living. Oh, and did I mention that she was a great cook, taught by her mother, along with her five sisters. Her life ended thirteen years ago and I still think of her every day and her morals still guide my life. I hope readers will share comments about their mothers here. I would love to hear from you.

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  2. Hi--Linda--I'm glad to see that you're feeling s bit better. Take care of yourself, please.
    My mother was beautiful when she dressed up, especially in red and with red lipstick. Her hair was thick and coal black, and her eyes were so dark brown they appeared to be black. But she most often dressed like a frumpy housewife, and took her responsibility of raising three girls properly, and also being the best wife anyone could possibly be. She taught me to crochet, to embroider,to sew, and make my own clothes for many years--until I discovered Sears and Montgomery Ward.She also taught me to stay neat as much as I could, but still looked the other way when I made mud pies and got it in my hair, too.
    She happened to marry the best man in all of Texas, and she took very good care of him. They had a long and happy marriage.
    Mother's one big fault was that she expected her three girls to pattern their lives after her own--marry young, settle in, have babies, be a great housewife, and never work. The three of us did just that...except at age 27 with two very young children and husband who worked two jobs, I changed the course of my life. With his help, I earned a degree and taught high school students biology. For this, Mother never forgave me, and bragged on the other two for their more simple lives. This is the only thing I held against her, and still do, although she passed away in 2010. She never acknowledged that I was very intelligent and had different ideas. Still, I rank her high on the scale of "good mothers."
    Great Post, Linda

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    1. Celia, we have had such similar journeys that I think we must be sisters. We connected early on when we met and found that our life histories had mirrored each other in so many ways, including the goals our mothers (and fathers) had for us and how long it took us both to break out of the mold that didn't' fit us. But our parents were a product of their time and it was only in the age of women wanting to be more than society told them to be that we were able to find fulfillment in our lives. We were the "in-between" generation and went to college late but we have made up for lost time since, haven't we?

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  3. You would think every culture would have one day of celebration for dear old Mom, wouldn't you? Interesting that in our nation Mother's Day wasn't an official holiday until the 1900s. I'm afraid the campaign to keep people from making money off it was doomed from the start.

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    1. Yes, Gerald, I agree that surely everyone should have at least one day to honor the woman who birthed and nurtured them. Of course, I have focused only on good mothers and there are some who are not. And yes, if there is money to be made, the money-makers will be there in full force! Thanks for your comments.

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  4. I remember having a discussion with a professor in college (Women's Studies/US History cross majored course) regarding Mother's Day. She was adamant it was entirely made up by the card and floral industry. When I challenged her on that, she asked me to prove her wrong. Which I did (politely, with research). She then offered to give me graduate student credit if I wrote a paper on it. I had to decline--it was two weeks from my graduation.

    Happy Mother's Day to the moms out there!

    Denise

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    1. Denise, I'm sorry you didn't get to write that paper. But at least, you set the record straight. And I'd like to add my wishes to yours for a Happy Mother's Day to all those ladies out there who are so deserving of our wishes.

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  5. What a beautiful poem, Linda. I remind my daughter a lot that time goes by so fast when your children are little, and to enjoy it to the fullest while you can. She tries, but some days get a little crazy when you have young ones, especially toddlers!! I miss my own mom very much. She was a true light in this world, and is surely responsible for any good traits that I have. I won't blame her for the bad ones! Happy Mother's Day everyone!

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    1. Thank you, Vickie, for such a nice compliment. I am always more emotionally involved in my poetry than my fiction so praise of a poem is extra special to me. And yes, the days we have to influence our children pass very quickly and we must treasure and use each one. I often think if I knew then what I know now, I'd do a lot of things differently. I think I would spend more time just "enjoying" my two children and less time trying to train them.

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  6. I don't know why, but I thought Mother's Day, the official one, started earlier than 1908. You certainly dug into your research on this. There was so much I didn't know until now. Mother's Day is one of the saddest holidays for me. It makes me miss my mother so much. Sometimes I still buy her a card or write her a note and lay it beside her picture. It makes me feel a little better.
    Your poem is absolutely beautiful...and heartrending.
    All the very best to you, Linda. You are such a lovely person.

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    1. Thank you, Sarah, for all of your sweet comments. Your act of remembrance to your mother brought tears to my eyes. Just remember, she lives in your heart. And she lives and acts in the special person you are.

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  7. Your poem is wonderful - a bit sad because it is so true to life. Good luck on your poetry book. You are so talented and amazing, Linda. Hope you have a Happy Mother's Day.

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    1. Diane, thank you so much for your kind words. You are a person I wish I could have an opportunity to know better. I always read your FB posts about your family and envy you those precious grandchildren I'm happy for your success with Amish books and wish I could find my "niche" as you have. I have enjoyed reading some of those and enjoyed learning more about Amish ways. Thanks for commenting today.

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  8. Linda, your poem IS beautiful. I agree with your comment, "I think I would spend more time just 'enjoying' my two children and less time trying to train them." But it's difficult for parents to understand that until it's too late! But I think my children love me anyway, I hope! As you know the previous post about my own mother was lost to the internet! She was such a unique and kind person that I can't even do her justice. My dad came out of WWII a sick man. He had Malaria, and had food poisoning from bad chicken. I said all of that to say my mother had a lot on her plate. My brother, Byron, was two years old, and when Mom left him with Dad at the station for a moment he said, "I want Ruby and a Coca-cola!" Dad wanted to know why Byron was calling Momma, Ruby, (not to mention the Coke) and she tried to explain to him that Byron didn't know who he was and thought he wouldn't know who "Momma" was.
    Dad went on the GI Bill to barber school and opened a barber shop next to our house. He also became an electronic technician and worked late at night after closing the shop at 8:30. Once again, I say that because my mother also learned to work on televisions and repaired many. Mom was next to the baby in her family and she followed her dad around in the fields while the older girls were doing household stuff. She wasn't interested in crocheting or sewing.
    Much of the time when Dad was working in the barber shop, Mom would take us and a couple of neighbor kids on little "hay" rides in a small wagon at night. We lived in the country and the roads were mostly deserted at that time. Bottom line, she always tried to show us a good time. She loved children and tried to help anyone who needed it. As I said, we lived in the country, but on a major road to Paducah. Hitchhikers were always coming by and she would feed them if they were hungry. This was a very long time ago. She taught us not to make fun of people, and to love them no matter how they were dressed. She tried to help the underdog always. Love and miss you Momma! Thank you, Linda, for this opportunity to remember my mother!

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    1. Ellen, thank you so much for making this effort to write your post again after you lost it first time around. I learned a lot I didn't know about you and your childhood as well as your description of your mother. When I knew her, she was a bed-fast invalid but she was always smiling and never complained. She was a joy to be know and be around. I see a lot of her traits in you and Nancy and Lana as well. I didn't know anything about your dad until now and I hope you will write more about him on Father's Day. I treasure our long friendship and wish we could find the time to spend together more often. Many this summer we will.

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  9. Thank you, Linda, dear Mentor! I agree with Diane: you are so talented and amazing!

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  10. Linda,
    I was so busy promoting the link, I forgot to leave a comment and tell you how much I enjoyed the tidbit about Mother's Day. Hope you have a wonderful Mother's Day.

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  11. Thank you, Karen. It was so kind of you to take the time to read and comment with all the promotion you were doing as well. And I appreciate your good wishes for Mother's Day. I hope mothers the world over get the honor they deserve not only on their special day but all year long.

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Thank you for your interest and input.