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Celebrating Mother's Day

Second Sunday of May. The following comes from Rev. Stefan Jonassen's “A Canadian Unitarian Almanac And Liturgical Calendar:”

In 1872, Unitarian Julia Ward Howe began advocating the creation of a “Mother’s Day for Peace” to be held on June 2 each year. The following year, eighteen cities held such a gathering. Bostonians continued to observe the day for more than a decade, while some cities continued the observance until the turn of the century, when the annual “Mother’s Day for Peace” appears to have died out. In 1907, Anna Jarvis, a Methodist, began a campaign to establish a permanent Mother’s Day. By the following year, the YMCA had taken up the cause and, in 1914, Woodrow Wilson signed a congressional resolution establishing Mother’s Day in the United States. In time, the day came to be marked in many other countries. Jarvis was troubled by the commercialization of the day, saying, "I wanted it to be a day of sentiment, not profit." Inalterably opposed to the sale of flowers (but not the giving of homegrown blossoms), she also lamented the advent of the Mother’s Day card, describing it as "a poor excuse for the letter you are too lazy to write." Interestingly enough, Mother’s Day is the most heavily attended Sunday in North American churches, outside of the Christmas and Easter seasons! In Unitarian Universalist congregations, the day has increasingly taken on a sense of being a day to mark the contributions of all women.

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The history of Mother’s Day reminds us that it is more than a day for flowers and pancakes. It's a time to highlight the aspects of motherhood that are not usually visible in the greeting card aisles. It’s a call to honor the resiliency of all those who mother, especially those who bear the brunt of hurtful policies or who are weighed down by stigma in our culture. It’s an opportunity to take action to create the conditions so that all families can thrive.

Strong Families is a national initiative to change policy and culture in support of all families. Their annual Mama’s Day Our Way campaign lifts up and celebrates the magic and heartbreak of being a mama. Learn more and find Unitarian Universalist Mama's Day Resources in our Social Justice pages.

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Last updated on Wednesday, May 7, 2014.

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