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On the Origins of Mother’s Day

May 14, 2023

On the origins of Mothers’ Day (with a special thanks to Paul Pynkoski for sharing)

Originally, before the commercialization, commodification, and individualization of Mother’s Day, this radical celebration was the brainchild of a brilliant woman, Julia Ward Howe, who was horrified by the carnage and suffering during the Civil War and the economic devastation that followed. She was also heartbroken by the outbreak of war between France and Germany in 1870, with its ominous display of German military might and imperial designs. She used her poetic gift to pen a proclamation against war, a proclamation that birthed Mother’s Day.

“We will not have great questions decided by irrelevant agencies, our husbands will not come to us, reeking with 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, the women of one country, will be too tender of those of another country to allow our sons to be trained to injure theirs.” — Julia Ward Howe

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