Mother’s Day is one of those slightly confusing days. In the UK it moves every year and is a different day entirely to many other countries across the world, yet the tradition of showering your mum with flowers and gifts and going for a nice lunch seems to ring true everywhere. It might seem like a purely commercial construct, but it's actually got quite a complex history and has changed face quite a few times.
In the UK, it has origins in Christianity and wasn't really anything to do with your mum at all - it was instead the day on which people would go back to their ‘mother church’ in the middle of Lent. In the UK today, it's all about celebrating the leading lady in your life, and the date is the only part of the tradition that has really endured. But when did this change happen?
Mother's Day as we know it today is actually much closer to an American tradition which started in 1872. Poet, author and social activist Julia Ward Howe, 'Mother’s Peace Day' was started by activists, suffragists, and pacifists to celebrate mothers as agents of change in a time of war.
Howe called for women work together and to gather once a year to promote peace:
“Arise then, Women of this day... 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. / From the voice of a devastated Earth a voice goes up with Our own. It says: ‘Disarm Disarm!’”
“In the name of womanhood and of humanity, I earnestly ask that a general congress of women, without limit of nationality, may be appointed and held at some place 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.”
So we can see how Mother's Day is yet another example of how women have resisted societal norms and challenged ideas that limit their rights; something that is sadly just as true today as it was in the USA in 1870s.
It's a day not just for the women and people who raised us, but those who rose up so we could too. Let's celebrate those people.
We couldn't help but feel the devastating poignancy of this as we witness the Russian invasion of Ukraine. Here's some ways you can help.
There are lots of great charities out there, some examples that have been recommended are Come Back Alive, Sunflower of Peace, British Red Cross, Unicef, OutRight Action, the UN Refugee Agency and Uniter Help Ukraine.
SUPPORT UKRAINIAN JOURNALISM
English-language news outlets based in Ukraine, such as Kyiv Independent and the New Voice of Ukraine, are covering developments on the ground as the conflict unfolds, using local journalists. This site on Twitter covers many local journalists in Ukraine.
WRITE TO YOUR MP
Show your support by lobbying politicians to place further sanctions on the Russian government and its associates, and implore them to allow more refugees. There's loads of templates online and instructions on how to get in touch can be found on parliament.uk.
ATTEND A DEMONSTRATION
There are a number of demonstrations in support of Ukraine all over the country. Show your solidarity and increase pressure on our government to act. The Association of Ukrainians in Great Britain is sharing demonstrations and shows of solidarity around the UK via its Facebook page, as is the Ukrainian Solidarity Campaign. Stop the War Coalition has also been sharing events on its homepage and social media.
JOIN IN WITH LOCAL FUNDRAISERS
There are some amazing initiatives like #CookForUkraine. Get involved, show your support or even organise something yourself.
Something as simple as using the right terminology when referring to the invasion is vital to showing support and not falling foul to misinformation.
These tips were compiled from theguardian.com and independent.co.uk, there are many more ways you can help.