Sunday, 15 March 2015 saw the celebration in the UK and the Republic of Ireland of Mother’s Day, or to give it it’s more correct title Mothering Sunday. Most people in these countries recognise Mother’s Day in some way or another, mostly giving gifts to their mothers. I spent it in reflection and thinking about my dear old Mum, who passed away in 1998.
In the Republic of Ireland however, independent Senator Fidelma Healy Eames chose to (ab)use the day by putting out a Tweet givng the stark warning “Happy Mothers’ day all! Hope we can continue to celebrate it after #SSM passed. In some US states Mothers & Father’s Day banned #pcgonemad”.
Because of course, dears, that’s what happens when you get same-sex marriage. The next thing which follows is that Mother’s Day and Father’s Day are banned. Just as happened in England – except it didn’t, Wales – except it didn’t, and my own native Scotland – except it didn’t. In fact, in all the countries which have same-sex marriage, not one of them have banned Mother’s Day or Father’s Day.
I shall be kind to Senator Eames and assume that she is mistaken upon the nature of Mother’s Day in the Republic of Ireland and the UK, in comparison to the USA, where it is not even celebrate in March, but rather in May.
Are you my Mummy?
Mothering Sunday always falls on the fourth Sunday in the Christian period of Lent. Historically, people who would attend their local or “daughter” church in their parish, would upon this day have to attend their cathedral or “mother” church in the diocese or bishopric. Sermons of the day would concentrate upon the Virgin Mary and the role of motherhood. It was quite common, particularly after the start of the industrial revolution, for children as young as 10 years old to move away from home to work elsewhere, and this was also common for those “in service” to the landed gentry. Therefore, Mothering Sunday was given by employers for these people to return to their mother church and it soon became a cause for celebration as entire families were reunited, and children found themselves once more under their mother’s wings. One of the more beautiful things we can thank Christianity for. Later, domestic servants were granted this day off to visit their mothers and families, and it is from this that the modern concept of Mother’s Day in the UK and Republic of Ireland was born.
Oh Happy Day
So, what of these US states Senator Eames mentions, which allowed SSM and banned Mother’s Day?
Below is the full list of all the US states where Mother’s Day and Father’s Day are banned:
. . . . . . That is all.
In the USA there are a great many “holidays” which are observed but which have nothing to do with “Holy Days” have been concocted and just plain invented. Known as Hallmark Holidays (after the greetings card manufacturer), these include Groundhog Day, National Defense Transportation Day, Boss’s Day, and Sweetest Day, which is basically a rip-off to “celebrate” candy manufacturers. Given that it is early in October, this is particularly cynical, given the huge profits the candy manufacturers make later that month, in the run-up to Halloween. As my partner states of Sweetest Day, “It’s like Valentine’s Day late in the year.”
But then, my partner, a Scots-American, also states “We (the USA) invent stupid holidays, not ban them.”
So what of the American Mother’s Day? It has it’s origins in the years following the American Civil War. No doubt spurred by the age-old cry that every soldier is some mother’s son, and in a very laudable step, in 1868 Ann Reeves Jarvis of Virginia started up Mother’s Day Friendship Clubs, in which mothers would meet with unionist and confederate soldiers to promote reconciliation between the two. This was followed in 1873 by suffragette and abolitonist Julia Ward Howe calling for a Mother’s Peace Day to be celebrated every 2 June, to promote world peace.
In 1908 Anna Jarvis, daughter of Ann Reeves Jarvis, organised the first Mother’s Day Celebration, to celebrate mothers and the sacrifices they make for their families, and to be recognised by wearing a white carnation and as a day for children to visit mothers or attend church services. The idea caught on state by state, and in 1914 President Woodrow Wilson officially sanctioned the second Sunday in May to be recognised as Mother’s Day.
Then the whole thing became commercialised and by 1920 Anna Jarvis was campaigning to stop florists, card manufacturers and candy manufacturers from what she saw as profiteering from the day. She spent most of her money on (unsuccessful) lawsuits against some who used the term Mother’s Day for profit, and from the 1940s she was campaigning to have the day stricken from the national holidays calendar.
We therefore see that while in both cases they have become grossly commercialised, Mothering Sunday in the UK / Republic of Ireland and Mother’s Day in the USA have very different origins.
There is a more important point, which Senator Eames needs to take on board, however concerning the two. Mother’s Day in the USA cannot be banned as a religious holiday, because it never started as one. Indeed, as the USA is officially a secular country with a wall between church and state, and where freedom of religion is enshrined in the First Amendment of the US Constitution, US Mother’s Day could never have been a religious holiday to begin with.
At least she got the continent right
If Senator Eames, who had the Fine Gael Party whip removed after going against her party line in 2013, is not aware of these things, then as an elected member of the Seanad Éireann, the Irish upper house, she should be. But then, it seems the Senator does not know a lot. When accused of lying about the US states, she further tweeted, “Lying is not my thing. No slur intended either. #justsaying Mother’s Day banned in NY and Nova Scotia school. Happy Mother’s Day.”
I’m trying to be kind, dears, I really am. But facepalming alone does not seem to suffice here and I may have to smash my forehead off the keyboard. Nova Scotia is of course a Province of Canada, not a US state. And people elected this woman to Senate? Be afraid. Be very afraid.
As to the claims, PinkNews found one obscure tabloid story about one single New York City Jewish school, Rodeph Sholom Day School, which in 2001 was not recognising Mother’s Day, as it clashed with a Jewish celebration. The Nova Scotia story also surrounds one solitary school, Astral Drive Elementary school, which in 2013 opted to recognise Family Day instead. And let us not forget that New York did not even have same-sex marriage in 2001. So, two single schools (which I doubt are even open on the Sunday Mother’s Day takes place), one of them a completely different country to that which Senator Eames claimed, opted to recognise different days, for one year only, and suddenly that is blown up to “some US states”. I honestly know deluded conspiracy theorists who would not attempt that level of sensationalism.
No slur intended, Fidelma sweetie, but if your obviously bigoted opposition to same-sex marriage relies upon spurious claims about days not only completely unrelated to the subject but even to each other, which you obviously never even bothered to research, while my own research took all of ten minutes, and your geography and knowledge of world politics is so poor that you cannot differentiate between a US state and a Canadian province, then one has to wonder if you are fit to hold political office at all. Just saying.