From a Prize Pedant on Mothering Sunday

Hello again... I've been poorly for a couple of weeks, adding to my blogging lethargy... But tomorrow I am back on Good Morning Ulster's Thought for the Day, so I had to get the proverbial finger out... Especially in the wake of Padraig O'Tuama's superb pieces for the past few Friday mornings... (If you haven't heard them check out the last one from last Friday morning on iPlayer before it self destructs...)
At one point I was considering doing something based on what follows, which first appeared as a piece on Downtown Radio in pre-blog days... But I ended up writing something else, and you'll just have to tune into Radio Ulster at Stupid o'clock tomorrow to find out what... Or wait until it is posted here later tomorrow). In the meantime here's something to think about:

So... all you Mothers out there... Did you have a good day today? Breakfast in bed? Flowers? Cards? Sunday dinner out? No dishes to do? I’m telling you... you get a good deal... all I usually get on Fathers’ Day is a pair of socks with Homer Simpson on them!

But I would argue that all gifts to Mothers today have actually been given under false pretences... because today is not really Mothers’ Day as everyone insists on calling it, but Mothering Sunday... This was the day in the medieval church calendar when everyone was encouraged to return to their home or Mother church... Domestic servants were given a day off and would pick wild flowers along the way to place in the church or give to their mothers. Eventually, the religious tradition evolved into the secular tradition of giving gifts to mothers… I culled that last bit from Wikipedia so it must be true!

Mothers’ Day, by contrast is an American tradition, which, like everything invented in America seems to conquer the world eventually, particularly if it has commercial clout... It takes place, not on the 4th Sunday of Lent, as here, but on the 2nd Sunday in May, and originated in the wake of the American Civil War. Julia Ward Howe who had previously penned the Battle Hymn of the Republic, the rallying cry of the Union armies in their fight against slavery... issued what she called a Mother’s Day Proclamation... This was a rallying cry against conflict and war... and it says:
Arise, then, women of this day! Arise all women who have hearts...
Say firmly: Our husbands shall 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 women of one country will be too tender of those of another country to allow our sons to be trained to injure theirs.
The sword of murder is not the balance of justice!
As men have often forsaken the plough and the anvil at the summons of war, let women now leave all that may be left of home for a great and earnest day of counsel.
Let them meet first, as women, to bewail and commemorate the dead.
Let them then solemnly take counsel with each other as the means whereby the great human family can live in peace,
And each bearing after her own time the sacred impress, not of Caesar, but of God.

Wow! Bet you didn’t read that on many Mothers’ day cards yesterday...

But in this year when we mark the centenary of the beginning of the First World war, the supposed war to end all wars, perhaps it’s a message that needs to be heard again by mothers, fathers, sons and daughters the world over…




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