Sunday, May 11, 2003

Mothers doing what?

THIS SUNDAY IS Mother's Day.
Restaurants are already booked for brunches and dinners. The flower, candy and card industries await their annual spike in sales. This is soooo 20th century. The women who conceived Mother's Day would be bewildered by our rituals. They would expect us to be marching in the streets, not honored for our individual sacrifices.
That's because the idea of a mother's day began with women's public activism. In 1858, Anna Reeve Jarvis, a young Appalachian homemaker, organized Mothers' (not Mother's) Work Days in West Virginia to improve the sanitation and decrease the deaths caused by polluted water.
In 1872, Julia Ward Howe, author of the "Battle Hymn of the Republic, proposed an annual Mothers' Day for Peace. Horrified by the casualties of the American Civil and Franco-Prussian wars, Howe asked:
Why do not the mothers of mankind interfere in these matters to prevent the waste of that human life of which they alone bear and know the cost?

· Mothers' (not Mother's) Work Days [ Chronicle]