Arise, then, women of this day!
Though appropriated by the billion dollar intimacy-industrial complex, Mother's Day in the US started as an anti-war protest.
In 1870, Julia Ward Howe published the Mother's Day Proclamation, a manifesto against the the carnage of the American Civil War and the Franco-Prussian War. The Proclamation was tied to Howe's feminist belief that women had a responsibility to shape their societies at the political level and called for international congress of mothers. By 1873, women in 18 cities in America held a Mother's Day for Peace gathering. For 30 years, Mothers’ Day for Peace was celebrated in June until Congress officially declared Mother’s Day in May. Read a brief history of the holiday here.
Previously: Another Mother for Peace
Update: 5/9/2011. I posted this item with both historical interest but also some sadness and cynicism. How could what started as a day calling for public day of action and international solidarity become warped into a private celebration, closed to the world at large? Of course we love our mothers, but I can’t help feel that love has been turned against us, used to move merchandise and squelch political action.
Well it turns out I was somewhat wrong. Not one, but two columns ran in the New York Times calling for humanitarian aid to improve maternal health in the name of Mother’s Day, and I received email from a non-profit or two working to use the day for good. It’s not quite international solidarity to stand up to the powers that be, but it’s a start.