It’s Mother’s Day, so I’m doing something good this year!

SUNDAY, MAY 13: Whether your style is flowers, breakfast in bed or an elegant brunch, be sure to thank Mom today—it’s Mother’s Day! We are publishing this holiday story early, this year, so you can plan ahead. Yes, you’ll probably want to get a card, then perhaps wrap a gift and make plans for your Mother’s Day meal. But, this year, we mean: Really think about this! Consider the larger importance of Mother’s Day, which has deep American roots in peacemaking after the Civil War and awareness of global issues affecting women and families. To this day, millions of women around the world face life-and-death challenges in holding their families together.

So, first, we will give you the fascinating background of this holiday, then we’ll give you some links to cool ideas for celebrationg. But, don’t miss our video clip—and links to Every Mother Counts—at the end of our story today!


Now, it’s as American as apple pie to honor mothers on the second Sunday of May. But it wasn’t always that way!

Of course, such a holiday is an ancient and worldwide concept: Ancient Greeks marked a day for Cybele; Romans held a festival called Hilaria; and Christians—particularly in England—have long marked Mothering Sunday. (Wikipedia has more on the American Mother’s Day and international Mother’s Day.)

The fledgling years of what we know as American Mother’s Day involved activism from women’s peace groups, especially among women whose sons had fought or died in the American Civil War. Smaller, localized celebrations began to grow when Ann Maria Reeves Jarvis put together a committee to establish “Mother’s Friendship Day” in 1868. She intended the day, also, to recognize families split by the Civil War. Ann’s daughter, Anna Jarvis, was born into this hive of activism. She was the key figure now credited with giving us our version of Mother’s Day. The State of West Virginia officially declared the holiday in 1910, and other states were soon to follow. President Woodrow Wilson issued a proclamation for the first national Mother’s Day in 1914.


In most congregations across the U.S., mothers are recognized in weekend services. Often, someone organizes a distribution of flowers or other small gifts. Think this is just a coincidence? No! In fact, Anna Jarvis gave away 500 carnations at the first modern Mother’s Day celebration at her church in 1908. Anna Jarvis claims she chose carnations because they were her mother’s favorite flower.

But keep it simple! That’s fitting in these tight financial times—and in congregations concerned about the poverty of women and families around the world. While it’s true that Anna Jarvis pioneered the distribution of free flowers in churches, she also campaigned staunchly against the commercialization of Mother’s Day. When she thought that the price of carnations was getting out of hand, she urged congregations to switch to cheaper, reusable buttons for the holiday. The Jarvis women were resolute in their faith that this day was about celebrating women, peacemaking and sharing with others.

So, here are some online ideas you check out for do-it-yourself Mother’s Day celebrations: If you’re in search of the perfect surprise for Mom, check out Martha Stewart’s extensive list of handmade gift ideas, or kids can try a simpler craft idea from Kaboose. Brunch ideas are abundant, too: Food Network, Rachael Ray and AllRecipes offer starting recipes for a delicious meal. Is Mom eco-friendly? Mother Nature Network has a whole list of ideas for the “green” mom. Whatever you choose, just remember Mom for all the big—and little—things she’s done. (Looking for some inspiration? Check out a heartwarming article from the Christian Science Monitor.)


Christy Turlington at right, working on her film project.At ReadTheSpirit, we love the whole idea of this video and the network of young friends and activists who radiate around this project. A year ago, three young friends who liked to make videos on a shoestring budget created something called The Jubilee Project. And, while “jubilee” efforts are everywhere these days, the three friends mainly do grassroots projects like this wonderful little video. While their video suggests there is a larger Jubilee Project behind it, that was their hopeful thinking as the trio created this little film.

You can click the video screen, below, to see it. (If you don’t see a video screen in your version of this story, click here to reload this story in your web browser.)

But wait! There is another inspiring, mother-centered, peacemaking effort that is connected to this video. It’s called Every Mother Counts and is mainly the project of Christy Turlington. You may read that name and think of her as the fashion model and friend of U2’s Bono and wife of filmmaker Edward Burns. In her own right, Christy is a well-educated advocate of improving interfaith relations; she writes about the value of yoga; and she dedicates heself to women’s health issues globally.

The hub of these activities is EveryMotherCounts, where she and her team are continually looking for bright spots emerging from the grassroots, like this little Jubilee film made by the three friends. She is a filmmaker herself, producing the documentary No Woman, No Cry.

So, come on! Watch the film clip below. And, smile!
Take that inspiration and do something good for Mother’s Day this year! Within this video, you’ll see the suggestion that you share this video with others. Do it by recommending this story on Facebook, below.

Originally published at, an online magazine covering religion and cultural diversity.

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