Anna Jarvis worked for a national Mother’s Day by starting a letter-writing campaign. Jarvis’s own mother had expressed a hope that a day to commemorate mothers would be established. Two years after her mother had died, Jarvis began her campaign. In 1914, Congress passed the legislation designating the second Sunday in May as Mother’s Day. Many other countries have a special day for mothers although the date varies from country to country.
Giving thanks and praise to mothers has biblical roots. Proverbs contains the beautiful poem on the excellent woman (31:10-31). The poem depicts a grateful husband and children praising this excellent woman:
Her children rise up and call her blessed;
her husband also, and he praises her:
“Many women have done excellently,
but you surpass them all.”
Charm is deceitful, and beauty is vain,
but a woman who fears the LORD is to be praised.
Give her of the fruit of her hands,
and let her works praise her in the gates.” (Proverbs 31:28–31, ESV)
Recently, someone drew my attention to Orations XVIII written in A.D. 374 by Gregory Nazianzus. The speech is for the funeral of Gregory’s father, but he praises his mother because she preceded his father in the faith and influenced him to the faith. He wrote:
She is a woman who while others have been honoured and extolled for natural and artificial beauty, has acknowledged but one kind of beauty, that of the soul, and the preservation, or the restoration as far as possible, of the Divine image…. The only genuine form of noble birth she recognized is piety, and the knowledge of whence we are sprung and whither we are tending…. To as great a degree has she, by her care and skill, secured the prosperity of her household, according to the injunctions and laws of Solomon as to the valiant woman, as if she had had no knowledge of piety; and she applied herself to God and Divine things as closely as if absolutely released from household cares, allowing neither branch of her duty to interfere with the other, but rather making each of them support the other.
Fitting on any day, but especially on Mother’s Day, is praise and thanks to mothers.