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6 Posts authored by: Chelsea Simens

History of Mother’s Day

Whether its flowers, breakfast in bed, or a handwritten card, Americans typically resort to “leisurely” activities to honor mothers and mother figures on Mothers Day.

 

We’ve been celebrating since 1914 when Woodrow Wilson declared the second Sunday in May as a national holiday. However, celebrating mothers dates back much further. The origins of Mother’s Day in the U.S began in the 19th century before the civil war. Women created clubs such as the “Mothers’ Day Work Clubs” to educate on proper child care and work on reconciliation between the divided nation. This club sprouted more such as “Mothers’ Friendship Day” and “Mother’s Peace Day.”

 

International Celebrations

This Sunday, May 12, we’ll take the time to celebrate all that our mothers have done for us in the U.S. But what about the rest of the world? We gathered a list of some other traditions countries to take to honor their mothers.

 

Britain (NPR)

In Britain, Mothering Sunday, or Mother's Day, is celebrated on the fourth Sunday of Lent, which fell on March 6 this year. According to Britannica, the custom began in the Middle Ages when people who had moved away returned to visit their home parishes and their mothers on that day. In particular, it was a day when children who left home to work as domestic servants were given a day off.

 

Bolivia (Mental Floss)

During the struggle for independence from Spain in the early 19th century, many of the country's fathers, sons, and husbands were injured and killed on the battlefields. As the history is told to Bolivian students, one group of women from Cochabamba refused to stand idly by; on May 27, they banded together to fight the Spanish Army on Coronilla Hill. Though hundreds died in battle, the legacy of their contributions lives on thanks to a national law passed in the 1920s making the day on which the “Heroinas of Coronilla” took to the streets national Mother’s Day.

 

Ethiopia  (Global Citizen)

Mother's Day in Ethiopia is celebrated with a three-day festival called Antrosht, which takes place at the end of Fall. Not only is it a celebration to honor mothers, but also a time to celebrate the end of the rainy season. It is a time for singing and dancing and an amazing three-day feast where a traditional hash meal is prepared, with all members of the family bringing the various ingredients.

 

France (Global Citizen)

Mother’s Day in France is called Fete des Meres. It takes place in late May or early June, depending on when Pentecost takes place. Fete des Meres became an official celebration in 1950, although Napoleon was the first to declare it a holiday. Much like other countries of the world, the French celebrate their mothers with a relaxing day of food and gifts and spending time with family.

 

Germany (Care)

Muttertag takes place on the second Sunday in May (unless it falls on Pentecost, in which case it occurs on the first Sunday of the month). In Germany, the giving of Mother's Day cards is extremely popular. During WWII, Mother's Day traditions took on political significance as the day to acknowledge women for producing children for the Vaterland, or Fatherland. Medals were awarded in gold, silver or bronze, based upon how many children were in the household. After the war, it assumed a softer feel, with the giving of gifts, cards and flowers, as well as festive meals earmarking the day.

 

India (Scholastic)

Each October, Hindus honor Durga, the goddess of mothers, during the 10-day festival known as Durga Puja. The celebration is thought to date back to the sixteenth century and is considered both a religious ceremony and a time for family reunions. One story tells of Durga returning to her parents’ home to show off her own children. Families spend weeks preparing food, gathering gifts, and decorating their homes for the festival.

Indonesia (Mental Floss)

Made official in 1953 by its president, Indonesia's Mother’s Day falls on the anniversary of the First Indonesian Women’s Congress (1928). The first convening of women in a governmental body is still considered pivotal in launching organized women’s movements throughout Indonesia. The holiday was created to celebrate the contributions of women to Indonesian society.

 

Japan (Scholastic)

Following World War II, a version of Mother’s Day grew popular as a way of comforting mothers who had lost sons to the war. You’ll see carnations presented around this March holiday, as they symbolize the sweetness and endurance of motherhood in Japanese culture. Originally, children gave a red carnation to a living mother and displayed a white one if their mother had died. Now, white has become the traditional color.

Mexico (Time)

Mexico takes very Mother’s Day very seriously. In fact, Manuel Gutierrez, president of the national association of restaurateurs, told the WashingtonPost in 2012 that May 10—whatever the day of the week—is the busiest day of the year for Mexican restaurants. Flowers are a must, but the day is also filled with music, food, celebrations, and often a morning serenade of the song “Las Mananitas” from mariachi singers:“Awaken, my dear, awaken/ and see that the day has dawned/ now the little birds are singing/ and the moon has set.”

 

Peru (Care)

Mother's Day is celebrated the second Sunday of May with gifts, chocolates and joyous family meals. In Peru, children often give their moms handmade items, which are reciprocated with gifts from them, in turn.

Peru's indigenous Andean population, however, also celebrates the gifts of Mother Earth, or Pachamama, in early August, says Hopgood. Pachamama is an ancient mythological goddess beloved by many indigenous Andean populations. Mythology cites Pachamama as the cause of earthquakes and bringer of fertility. Her special worship day is called Martes de Challa.

Russia (Time)

In the former Soviet Union, mothers were celebrated on International Women’s Day on March 8, a celebratory date that has since become an internationally-observed day to honor women and reflect on the goal for gender equality. In 1998, post-Soviet Russia introduced Mother’s Day on the last Sunday in November, but most of the gift giving still happens in March.

 

Serbia (Care)

Another country which needs three days to fully acknowledge their mothers and the spirit of family is Serbia, where Mother's Day takes place in December and is part of a series of holidays including Children's Day and Father's Day. All three holidays take place on consecutive Sundays and require lots of rope!

On Children's Day, children are tied up and must agree to behave before they are unbound. On Mother's Day, it is the mom's turn to be tied up, where she will remain until she supplies yummy treats and small gifts to her children. Finally it is father's turn. The dads are tied up with rope until they give their families Christmas gifts. At that point, everybody feasts.

For more universally inspiring moms, check out this TED Talks Playlist, Talks by Fierce Moms: https://www.ted.com/playlists/247/talks_by_fierce_moms

 

With the U.S.’s carbon footprint growing, air quality flunking, and a 12 year warning to stop planet warming Earth Day is not in its heyday.

 

On April 22, 2019 Earth Day celebrated its 49th anniversary. Let’s make this birthday one to remember! Below are actionable items you can take every day of the week to continuously celebrate Earth Day and improve the Earth:

 

Day 1 - Turn the faucet off

We waste gallons keeping the faucet on while we: bathe, wash our hands, wash our dishes, brush our teeth, etc… (Water.USGS.gov)

 

Day 2 - Buy/Use a reusable water bottle/coffee cup/straw!

You’ll save plastic and always be hydrated :)

Plus, many coffee shops offer discounts for bringing your own container! (Eater)

 

Day 3 - Update your light bulbs

Here’s a bright idea! Switching your light bulbs to energy-efficient can save 25%-80% less energy and last 3-25 times longer.

Plus, you can save $75 a year (Energy.gov)

 

Day 4 -  BYOB

Bring your own bag anytime you shop. “Worldwide, a trillion single-use plastic bags are used each year, nearly 2 million each minute. The amount of energy required to make 12 plastic shopping bags could drive a car for a mile.” (Earth Policy Institute)

 

Day 5 - Go meatless for a day

The U.N. reports that the meat industry is a major contributor to greenhouse gas emissions. It's also estimated that over 1,800 gallons of water are used to produce just a single pound of beef. (GoodHousekeeping)

 

Day 6 - Unplug at night

Your electronics need sleep too! Power off and shutdown your electronics to save energy overnight.

 

Day 7 - Volunteer at an Environmental Organization

Check out idealist and volunteermatch to find an organization near you and get one step closer to saving the planet.


Did we miss any? Let us know other ways we can clean up the Earth below? Comment below and we’ll send you one of the following books (your choice!) from our Environmental and Nature  trade books:

 

As another Easter passes by we wanted to take a moment to reflect on all the ways we celebrate and honor this holiday. Take a look below to learn more about Easter’s traditions and symbols.

 

Full moon rising (Almanac)

Would you believe that the date of Easter is related to the full Moon?

Specifically, Easter is celebrated on the first Sunday following the full Moon that occurs on or just after the spring equinox.

 

Hop into the holiday spirit (History)

The Bible makes no mention of a long-eared, short-tailed creature who delivers decorated eggs to well-behaved children on Easter Sunday; nevertheless, the Easter bunny has become a prominent symbol of Christianity’s most important holiday. The exact origins of this mythical mammal are unclear, but rabbits, known to be prolific procreators, are an ancient symbol of fertility and new life. According to some sources, the Easter bunny first arrived in America in the 1700s with German immigrants who settled in Pennsylvania and transported their tradition of an egg-laying hare called “Osterhase” or “Oschter Haws.” Their children made nests in which this creature could lay its colored eggs. Eventually, the custom spread across the U.S. and the fabled rabbit’s Easter morning deliveries expanded to include chocolate and other types of candy and gifts, while decorated baskets replaced nests. Additionally, children often left out carrots for the bunny in case he got hungry from all his hopping.

 

Incredible Edibles: Dyeing Easter Eggs (MentalFloss)

The tradition of decorating eggs of all kinds—even ostrich eggs—may go all the way back to the ancient pagans. It’s easy to see why eggs represent rebirth and life, so associating them with spring and new growth isn’t much of a stretch. To celebrate the new season, it’s said that people colored eggs and gave them to friends and family as gifts.

 

When Christians came along, they likely incorporated the tradition into their celebrations. According to some legends, Mary or Mary Magdalene could be responsible for our annual trek to the store to buy vinegar and dye tablets. As the story goes, Mary brought eggs with her to Jesus’ crucifixion, and blood from his wounds fell on the eggs, coloring them red. Another tells us that Mary Magdalene brought a basket of cooked eggs to share with other women at Jesus’ tomb three days after his death. When they rolled back the stone and found the tomb empty, the eggs turned red.

 

Roll with it (White House)
The White House Easter Egg Roll officially dates back to 1878 and the presidency of Rutherford B. Hayes, but first-hand accounts suggest that informal festivities began with egg-rolling parties under President Abraham Lincoln. Starting in the 1870s, Easter Monday celebrations on the U.S. Capitol’s west grounds grew so popular that President Ulysses S. Grant signed a bill that banned the rolling of eggs on Capitol grounds, citing landscape concerns.

 

Hunt for joy (Good HouseKeeping)

The Easter egg has pre-Christian associations with spring, but much later, Christians related eggs to the resurrection of Jesus. The egg became a symbol for the tomb from where Jesus rose, just days after his crucifixion.

 

The first egg hunt can be traced back to Martin Luther, a central figure during the Protestant Reformation — men hid the eggs for women and children to find. The happy act of finding an Easter egg during the hunt is supposed to remind us of the joy that the women (believed to be Mary Magdalene, Mary mother of James and Salome) felt when they came to Jesus's cave and found it empty.

 

Candy is Dandy (History)

Easter is the second best-selling candy holiday in America, after Halloween. Among the most popular sweet treats associated with this day are chocolate eggs, which date back to early 19th century Europe. Eggs have long been associated with Easter as a symbol of new life and Jesus’ resurrection. Another egg-shaped candy, the jelly bean, became associated with Easter in the 1930s (although the jelly bean’s origins reportedly date all the way back to a Biblical-era concoction called a Turkish Delight). According to the National Confectioners Association, over 16 billion jelly beans are made in the U.S. each year for Easter, enough to fill a giant egg measuring 89 feet high and 60 feet wide. For the past decade, the top-selling non-chocolate Easter candy has been the marshmallow Peep, a sugary, pastel-colored confection. Bethlehem, Pennsylvania-based candy manufacturer Just Born (founded by Russian immigrant Sam Born in 1923) began selling Peeps in the 1950s. The original Peeps were handmade, marshmallow-flavored yellow chicks, but other shapes and flavors were later introduced, including chocolate mousse bunnies.

What’s your favorite Easter tradition? Comment below!

This year’s theme is Visionary Women: Champions of Peace and Nonviolence (National Women’s History Alliance). They define this as, “women who have led efforts to end war, violence, and injustice and pioneered the use of nonviolence to change society.” We honor any woman who has, “embraced the fact that the means determine the ends and so developed nonviolent methods to ensure just and peaceful results.”

 

Linked below are some historical moments for women throughout history:

 

Heroines of Peace - The Nine Nobel Women (NobelPrize.org)

Facts and Figures: Peace and Security (UNWomen)

Women’s Participation in Peace Processes (CFR)

Promoting Women, Peace and Security (UN)

 

Honoring the theme, we’ve compiled some ways to practice and promote peacefulness:

 

How to Practice Peace and Interconnectedness

5 Easy Ways You Can Create World Peace

10 Daily Habits for Inner Peace

 

By commenting below you are eligible to choose one of our 5 highlighted Macmillan paperbacks. Please add that to the bottom of your comment to be sent a complimentary copy.

 

You don’t have to leave home (although we recommend you do) to celebrate Women’s History Month! Below are some great suggestions to honor Women’s History Month on your own time.

 

Movies:

 

Books:

 

For a great combo, check out BookRiot’s list on “Bookish Movies Directed by Women for Women’s History Month.”

 

Podcasts: Whether you’re on the go or sitting at home, these insightful podcasts are definitely worth a listen!

 

Specific Episodes:

 

Which recommendation are you most likely to use?

  • Podcast
  • Movie
  • Book

 

Comment below and we’ll send you one of the following books (your choice!) from our Women’s History trade books:

 

Chelsea Simens

Women’s History Month

Posted by Chelsea Simens Mar 15, 2019

Every March we take the time to look back and honor the achievements of women throughout history. Although widely celebrated now, this was not always the case. Below we give a snapshot of what Women’s History Month is and how you can celebrate. We’ll be posting weekly on Women’s History Month so check in!

 

What is it?

An annual event to reflect and celebrate the achievements of women’s through history during the month of March. It’s an opportunity to study up on Women’s place throughout history - the struggles they have faced and the contributions they continue to make to society today.

 

History of Women’s History Month

Women’s History Month originally started as Women’s History Week in 1978. But much like women, it continued to persevere and prosper. By 1980 President Jimmy Carter proclaimed March 8 (International Women’s Day) as Women’s History Week. Over the next several years the week’s influence continued to expand. By 1987 Congress had declared March as National Women’s History Month and it was celebrated all over the nation. It continues this legacy today.

 

How can you celebrate?

There are many ways to celebrate. Some notable ways people have honored this month in the past have been donating to women’s charities, donating to your local library to provide more books on women’s history (or even donating a book yourself!), and attending rallies for women.

 

We’ll be providing more information on how to honor Women’s History month throughout the month. For now, check out some of these recommended events:

 

Exhibits and Collections (WomensHistoryMonth.Gov)

Celebrate Women’s History (ThoughtCo)

31 Ways to Celebrate Women’s History Month (GirlsWithIdeas)

31 Empowering Ways to Celebrate Women’s History this Month (Bustle)

 

By commenting below you are eligible to choose one of our 5 highlighted Macmillan paperbacks. Please add that to the bottom of your comment to be sent a complimentary copy.