Most associate Mother’s Day with cards, flowers and calls to mom.
But few in contemporary America understand the origins of the holiday. The early advocates of Mother’s Day envisioned it as a day of peace. In 1870 — nearly 40 years before it became an official U.S. holiday in 1914 — the activist minded Julia Ward Howe issued a Mother’s Day Proclamation, which called upon mothers of all nationalities to band together to promote a peaceful solution to international questions in the name of peace. She envisioned a Mother’s Day where women from all over the world could meet to discuss the means to achieve world peace.
Julia Ward Howe was an abolitionist, feminist, poet, and the author of “The Battle Hymn of the Republic.” Howe experienced the horrors of war firsthand. She tended to the wounded during the Civil War and worked with the widows and orphans of soldiers on both sides of the war. The devastation she witnessed during the civil war raised her consciousness on the issues of peace. Ward saw the issue of war through the prism of feminism. She encouraged women to “rise up through the ashes and devastation,” urging a Mother’s Day dedicated to peace.
Support for Mother’s Day grew and finally it became a national holiday in the early 1900’s with the efforts of Anna Jarvis, who had been inspired by her mother, also named Anna Jarvis, who had teamed with Julia Ward Howe in earlier efforts for a Mother’s Day. The beginnings of Mother’s Day has been lost to the average citizen as the years came and went. However, in contemporary America, many are still interested in causes Howe promoted in the 1800’s. It can be witnessed in the dissent currently alive in the streets and the population at large. Although Howe’s name and her role in Mother’s Day isn’t well known, her consciousness shows no signs of dying.