Tuesday, May 13, 2008


Many people think that Mother's Day is a modern innovation created by greeting card conglomerates. But the history of this holiday is much deeper, with roots going all the back to Egypt, where there was an annual festival to honor the goddess Isis, the mythical Mother of the pharaohs and the goddess of gift shops. The ancient Egyptians depicted her carrying a bouquet of flowers in one hand (though sometimes a single rose or lotus blossom is shown), the keys to her gift shop in the other hand (the "ankh" symbol, the symbol of endless economic life and business vitality), and a pop-up greeting card on her head. So yes, the core values of this holiday are ancient indeed.

Mother's Day in the US also has roots in Julia Ward Howe's Mother's Day Proclamation in 1870. The woman who wrote the The Battle Hymn of the Republic in 1858 had become disgusted with the carnage of war and wanted mothers to join together in preventing the unnecessary slaughter of their sons. In her proclamation of 1870, she wrote:

Arise, then, women of this day!
Arise all women who have hearts,
Whether your baptism be that of water or of tears
Say firmly:

"We will not have great questions decided by irrelevant agencies,
Our husbands shall not come to us reeking of carnage,
For caresses and applause.
Our sons shall not be taken from us to unlearn
All that we have been able to teach them of
charity, mercy and patience.

"We women of one country
Will be too tender of those of another country
To allow our sons to be trained to injure theirs."

Not the sort of thing we see on Mother's Day cards today, but I can respect her feelings on the matter.

Me, too. I have borrowed this quote. from Jeff Lindsay at Mormanity


Jo said...

Yes, strong, good words.

mariacristina said...

i love this. I feel so strongly, in the same way. I wish more women would speak out in the US about ending war and promoting peace. Great post.

How's your back? Hope it's getting better.