Celebrating Mother's Day Every Day

"All that I am or ever hope to be, I owe to my angel Mother."
—Abraham Lincoln

Many of us do not know the history of Mother’s Day, or why we celebrate Mother’s Day. I happened to be surfing the web when I came upon this explanation:

The earliest Mother’s Day celebrations can be traced back to the spring celebrations of ancient Greece in honor of Rhea, the Mother of the Gods. During the 1600s, England celebrated a day called "Mothering Sunday." Celebrated on the 4th Sunday of Lent (the 40 day period leading up to Easter), "Mothering Sunday" honored the mothers of England.

During this time many of the England’s poor worked as servants for the wealthy. As most jobs were located far from their homes, the servants would live at the houses of their employers. On Mothering Sunday the servants would have the day off and were encouraged to return home and spend the day with their mothers. A special cake, called the mothering cake, was often brought along to provide a festive touch.

As Christianity spread throughout Europe the celebration changed to honor the "Mother Church" — the spiritual power that gave them life and protected them from harm. Over time the church festival blended with the Mothering Sunday celebration. People began honoring their mothers as well as the church.

In the United States Mother’s Day was first suggested in 1872 by Julia Ward Howe (who wrote the words to the Battle hymn of the Republic) as a day dedicated to peace. Ms. Howe would hold organized Mother’s Day meetings in Boston, Mass ever year.

In 1907 Ana Jarvis, from Philadelphia, began a campaign to establish a national Mother’s Day. Ms. Jarvis persuaded her mother’s church in Grafton, West Virginia to celebrate Mother’s Day on the second anniversary of her mother’s death, the 2nd Sunday of May. By the next year Mother’s Day was also celebrated in Philadelphia.

Ms. Jarvis and her supporters began to write to ministers, businessman, and politicians in their quest to establish a national Mother’s Day. It was successful as by 1911 Mother’s Day was celebrated in almost every state. President Woodrow Wilson, in 1914, made the official announcement proclaiming Mother’s Day as a national holiday that was to be held each year on the second Sunday of May.

While many countries of the world celebrate their own Mother’s Day at different times throughout the year, there are some countries such as Denmark, Finland, Italy, Turkey, Australia, and Belgium which also celebrate Mother’s Day on the second Sunday of May.

We recently honored my mother on her 80th birthday with many friends and relatives who came from far and wide to help us celebrate on the family farm in Marion, South Carolina. As we were celebrating her 80 years, it dawned on me that every day is Mother’s day. Without mothers we would not be here. Our mothers are our first models of God: From their bodies, spring our creation. Early on, in the womb, we are weaned on their nutrients. When we are born, the maternal instinct ensures our safety. This unconditional bond teaches a child what it means to be cherished, teaches a child about the world around him, about emotional needs, about the essence of love. From these early interactions a child’s character is born.

My own mother spread her love equally to her children, taking great care to build and affirm our self-esteem. At the same time, she never tried to be our best friend; she was our mother, and as such, she provided the discipline and structure that our young minds craved. It was under her kindly lash, that my sense of personal responsibility and assertiveness grew. Most of all, she found great peace by giving up everything to serve her children and to help endow them with an immutable moral foundation. This moral sense was bound up in the concepts of religious striving, hard work and charity.

In the simplest sense, mama believed that an absolute moral point of reference was necessary to help us discern between right and wrong. Without this foundation, she thought humans tended merely to live from whim to whim, moving neither toward nor away from anything, finding enjoyment only in moments of fleeting beauty. These lessons were learned young and so they tended to stick. They formed a foundation that would haul me along into adulthood. In a very tangible way, they set me about becoming the man I am today. Decades later these early lessons remain not just as memory, but also as a lingering joy in my heart and a constant source of rejuvenation.

I suppose it is appropriate that, upon birth, we are literally attached to our mothers. So while we delight in celebrating this Mother’s Day on May 14 — remember — every day is Mother’s Day.