Sunday, 8 May 2011
MOM ...More on Mothers, Mother's Day Celebration
Photo Taken from
While waiting for my turn in this long line of bouguet hunters and payers in
our village flower shop,it came to my mind to check again on the original
date of the celebration of Mother's Day. I am very grateful for wikipedia
for the fast answer and other links relevant to this tradition of giving
honour to mothers. See the posted info from wikipedia.
"One of the early calls to celebrate a Mother's Day in the United States was the "Mother's Day Proclamation" by Julia Ward Howe. Written in 1870, it was a pacifist reaction to 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.
Mother's Day Proclamation
by Julia Ward Howe in 1870
Arise, then, women of this day!
Arise, all women who have hearts,
Whether our baptism be of water or of tears!
"We will not have great questions decided by irrelevant agencies,
Our husbands will 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, the women of one country, will be too tender of those of another country
To allow our sons to be trained to injure theirs."
From the bosom of the devastated Earth a voice goes up with our own.
It says: "Disarm! Disarm! The sword of murder is not the balance of justice."
Blood does not wipe out dishonor, nor violence indicate possession.
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 solemnly take counsel with each other as to the means
Whereby the great human family can live in peace,
Each bearing after his own time the sacred impress, not of Caesar,
But of God.
In the name of womanhood and humanity, I earnestly ask
That a general congress of women without limit of nationality
May be appointed and held at someplace deemed most convenient
And at the earliest period consistent with its objects,
To promote the alliance of the different nationalities,
The amicable settlement of international questions,
The great and general interests of peace.
Celebration of Mother's Day in Germany
In the 1920s Germany had the lowest birthrate in Europe, and it was still declining. It was attributed to women's participation in the labor market. At the same time, all influential groups in society (politicians in both Left and Right, churchwomen and feminists) thought that mothers should be honored, but they couldn't agree on how to do it. All those groups agreed strongly in the promotion of the values of motherhood. This resulted in the unanimous adoption in 1923 of the Muttertag, the Mother's Day holiday as imported from America and Norway. The head of the Association of German Florists cited "the inner conflict of our Volk and the loosening of the family" as his reason for introducing the holiday, and he expected that it would unite the divided country. In 1925 the Mother's Day Committee joined the Task Force for the recovery of the volk, and the holiday stopped depending on commercial interests and it started being about the level of population Germany.
The holiday was now seen as a means to get the women to bear more children, and nationalists saw it as a way of rejuvenating the nation. The holiday didn't celebrate the individual women, but an idealized standard of motherhood. The progressive forces resisted the implementation of the holiday because it was backed by so many conservatives, and because they saw it as a way to cut the rights of the worker women. Die Frau, the newspaper of the Federation of German Women's Associations, refused to even recognize the holiday. Many local authorities made their own interpretation of the holiday: it would be a day to support economically larger families or single-mother families. The guidelines for the subsidies had eugenics criteria, but there is no indication that social workers ever implemented them in practice, and subsidies were given preferentially to families in economic needs rather that families with more children or with "healthier" children.
With the Nazi party in power during 1933–1945, this all changed radically. The propaganda for Mother's Day had increased in many European countries, including England and France, and Nazis increased it from the moment they entered into power. The role of mothers was unambiguously promoted as that of giving healthy sons to the German Nation. The Nazi party's intention was creating a pure "Aryan race" according to the nazi eugenics. Among other Mother's Day ideas, the government promoted the death of your sons in battle as the highest embodiment of patriotic motherhood.
The Nazis quickly declared Mother's Day an official holiday and put it under the control of the NSV (National Socialist People's Welfare Association) and the NSF (National Socialist Women Organization). This brought conflicts with other organizations that resented Nazi control of the holiday, like the Catholic and the Protestant churches and local women organizations. Local authorities continuously resisted the guidelines from the Nazi government and kept assigning resources to families that were in economical need, much to the dismay of the Nazi officials.
The government started issuing in 1938, an award called Mother's Cross (Mutterkreuz), with different categories depending on the number of children. The cross intended to encouraging having more children, and recipients had to have at least 4 children. For example, a gold cross recipient (a level one) had to have eight children or more. Since having fewer children was a recent development, the gold cross was awarded mostly to elderly mothers with grown children. It promoted loyalty among German women and it was a popular award even if it had little material awards and it was mostly empty praise. The recipients of honors had to be examined by doctors and social workers according to genetic and racial values that were considered beneficial to the volk. The friends and family were also examined for possible flaws that could disqualify them, and they had to be racially and morally fit. They had to be "German-blooded", "genetically healthy", "worthy", "politically reliable", and they couldn't have vices like drinking. Criteria against honors were, for example, "family history contains inferior blood", "unfemenine" behaviour like smoking or doing poor housekeeping, not being "politically reliable", or having family members that had been "indicted and imprisoned". There were instances where a family was disqualified because a doctor saw signs of "feeblemindedness." Even contact with a Jew could disqualify a potential recipient. Social workers had become disillusioned from the Weimar Republic and supported Nazi ideas personally as a means to "cure" the problems of the country. Application of policies was uneven, as doctors promoted medical criteria over racial criteria, and local authorities promoted economical need over any other criteria.
Happy Mother's Day!