A year abstaining from holidays does include all holidays, that means Hallmark Holidays as well, and that includes Mother’s Day. This is where abstaining from holidays can become very difficult and emotional. But, before we get into that, let’s look into the history and creation of Mother’s Day.
Celebrations of Mother’s Day isn’t just a Hallmark Holiday, believe it or not. “It can be traced back to the ancient Greeks and Romans, who held 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 “mother church”—the main church in the vicinity of their home—for a special service. Over time the Mothering Sunday tradition shifted into a more secular holiday, and children would present their mothers with flowers and other tokens of appreciation. This custom eventually faded in popularity before merging with the American Mother’s Day in the 1930s and 1940s.” (History.com)
In America, Mother’s Day celebrations can also date back the 19th Century before the Civil War when Anne Reeves Jarvis in West Virginia started a collection of “Mother’s Day Work Clubs” which taught local women how to raise children. Eventually, this club was seen as a unifying force during the Civil War when Jarvis began “Mother’s Friendship Day” when mothers would gather with former Union and Confederate soldiers to promote reconciliation. Another precursor to Mother’s Day was former abolitionist suffragette Julia Ward Howe wrote the “Mother’s Day Proclamation” in 1870 as a call to action to mother’s to unite for world peace. In 1873 Howe campaigned for a “Mother’s Peace Day” to be celebrated every June 2. Other early Mother’s Day pioneers include Juliet Calhoun Blakely, a temperance activist who inspired a local Mother’s Day in Albion, Michigan, in the 1870s. The duo of Mary Towles Sasseen and Frank Hering, meanwhile, both worked to organize a Mothers’ Day in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. (History.com)
The official Mother’s Day holiday came to be in the 1900s as a result of the efforts of Anna Jarvis, daughter of Ann Reeves Jarvis. After her mother’s 1905 death, Anna Jarvis conceived of Mother’s Day as a way of honoring the sacrifices mothers made for their children. in May 1908 she organized the first official Mother’s Day celebration at a Methodist church in Grafton, West Virginia. By 1912 many states, towns and churches had adopted Mother’s Day as an annual holiday. In 1914 when President Woodrow Wilson signed a measure officially establishing the second Sunday in May as Mother’s Day. Since then, Mother’s Day has unfortunately become overtly commercialized which was actually the exact opposite of what Jarvis wanted. She even protested against the commercialization of her holiday when originally she wanted it to be a personal recognition of mothers in the United States. (History.com)
For me, Mother’s Day has always been difficult. My parents are divorced and I live with my father. I visit my mother on occasion as she suffers from mental illnesses. Some Mother’s Days weren’t celebrated at all, others were full of heartache because my mother and I couldn’t get along. Telling my mother I was spending a year not celebrating holidays was extremely difficult for her. She has spent some holidays alone… and this is also the reason I want to remove myself from this holiday stigma. Holidays can be a wonderful time for families to come together, but it also leaves others who cannot always see their families in pits of sadness, feeling empty inside because another day passed by spent alone, the only difference is it had a special name. I want to erase that stigma for myself and take the time to do what I feel is right for me on a day which has a name that is celebrated so much, and figure out if it is significant to me.
This Mother’s Day I did spend time with my mother. Instead of buying her a gift or taking her out to dinner. We sat and had a nice conversation over coffee and I left after telling her, “You really are a great mom.” And that is how I think a Mother’s Day should be spent.
To read on why I’m abstaining from holidays for a year, please follow this link.
And to read on my advice for telling family members and friends, please follow this link.