A WOMAN OF VALOR, WHO CAN FIND? FOR HER PRICE IS FAR ABOVE RUBIES

by Naomi Gryn 

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P. Picasso Maternite' (Mother and Child), 1963 Lithograph

Surprisingly, Britain’s Mothering Sunday – commemorated this year on 14 March – does not share its origins with USA’s Mother’s Day, but grew out of a 16th century custom for worshippers to visit their ‘mother church’ – often a cathedral – for a special service on the fourth Sunday of Lent. Domestic servants would be given the day off to visit their parents, with Lent’s fasting rules relaxed, and often taking with them a gift.

The tradition fell out of fashion by the beginning of the 20th century but was revived by a vicar’s daughter, Constance Penswick-Smith. In time, this became fused in style with the American Mother’s Day which was first established in West Virginia in 1908 by social activist Anna Jarvis to honor the memory of her own mother who had died three years earlier. It caught on like wildfire and by 1914 it had become a national holiday, celebrated on the second Sunday in May.

Appalled by the way Mother’s Day was commercialized, Anna later tried to reverse it. “A printed card means nothing” she wrote, “except that you are too lazy to write to the woman who has done more for you than anyone in the world. And candy! You take a box to Mother—and then eat most of it yourself. A pretty sentiment.”

Is there any love more selfless and unconditional than a mother’s for her children…

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