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The real meaning of Mother's Day

BY FATHER JOHN FRAUENFELDER

In recent weeks our department stores have been ceaseless in reminding us that  on Sunday 13 May we will be celebrating Mother’s Day.  It may be worth a few moments of our time  to stop and reflect on the origin of this day. 

The emphasis given to this day of remembering mothers in more recent years is attributed to Anna Jarvis who never married and never had children. The Mother of Mothers Day, as she’s called, is a fitting title for the one who worked tirelessly to bestow honour on all mothers. 

Anna’s inspiration came from her own mother, Mrs Anna Marie Jarvis, in her childhood. An activist and social worker Mrs Jarvis expressed her desire that someday someone would honour all mothers, living and dead, and pay tribute to the contributions made by them.  

As a loving daughter, Anna never forgot her mother’s hope and, when her mother died in 1905, she was determined to fulfil her mother’s desire of having a special day for mothers. Anna’s desire to fulfil her mother’s dream was further fired up by the growing negligent attitude of adult Americans towards their mothers. Her ambitious dream began with providing carnations – her mother’s favourite flower, and a symbol of a mother’s pure love - for use in a church service in Grafton, West Virginia. 

Later Anna, together with her supporters, wrote letters to people in positions of power lobbying them for an official declaration of a Mother’s Day holiday.

Anna’s hard work eventually came to fruition. Mother’s Day was celebrated in almost every state of the Union and on May 8, 1914 President Woodrow Wilson signed a joint Resolution designating the second Sunday in May as Mother’s Day.

Today, Mother’s Day is celebrated in many countries, including America, United Kingdom, India, Denmark, Finland, Italy, Turkey, Australia, Mexico, Canada, Belgium. In some countries people take see the day as an opportunity to pay tribute to their mothers and thank them for their love and support. Mother’s Day has become extremely popular and a tradition of giving flowers, cards and other gifts has commercialised this day in a big way. 

It is interesting to note that Anna Jarvis, who devoted her life to the declaration of Mother’s Day, was deeply hurt by the growing commercialisation of the day. Whilst we celebrate and offer gifts, expressions of our love and gratitude, let’s not forget that this day began as a time of prayer to honour our mothers and acknowledging their contributions to our lives.

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From St Mary’s, North Sydney. The first Mass of the day on YouTube

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Live streamed from Our Lady of the Rosary Cathedral, Waitara

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