Profiling Tepehua – June 2022

Next year on Mother’s Day, take a bunch of flowers to the village and give one flower to every old woman you see. Perhaps you’ll bring a smile to her face.

Great Grandma Jarvis, who lived in the United States in the late 1800s, had 13 children, of whom only four survived. One of the survivors was called Ann Jarvis. She herself was pregnant with her sixth child at a time when the mortality rate was still tragically high, and death seemed like a form of family planning. This high death rate angered Ann, and she started a workshop so that mothers could get together and learn home hygiene in the hope their children would live. This informally became known as Mother’s Day. 

One of Ann’s children, Ana Jarvis, in 1908 started a church meeting in which she carried a white carnation in honor of her mother, and this tradition caught on. In addition to the white carnation, the tradition of a visit to mother, if she were  still alive, or a visit to the church if not, or both, because customary. It became very popular and every second Sunday in May was the unofficial Mother’s Day. Ana made it her work to promote this until, in 1914, President Woodrow Wilson declared it an official holiday honoring mothers’.

The commercial hog picked it up and ran with it, and Ana Jarvis watched as Mother’s Day turned into the largest consumer spending day of the year. She spent the rest of her life outwardly denouncing it and suing any company using the title “Mother’s Day” to no avail. Ironically, she had no children of her own.

Meanwhile, around the world Mother’s Day became entrenched in the curriculum every second Sunday in May, and continued to flourish. Unlike the rest of the world where the date is always changing, Mexico honors mothers but always on May 10th. Started in 1922 by Raphael Alducin, editor of the newspaper El Excélsior and who was sometimes called the Father of Mother’s Day, on this day mothers are celebrated with good food, loud music, and love expressed in flowers. As Mother’s Day in Mexico is not a national holiday, when it falls on a working day workers are usually allowed to leave early. The flowers for Mother’s Day here at Lakeside are so stunning that even Ana Jarvis would change her white carnation into a bouquet for Mum.

Mother’s Day actually started with the Greek and Romans as they celebrated once a year the powers of the Goddess Rhea, the mother of the gods. Always, somewhere there are some forgotten angels or village mothers whose children never had the chance for adulthood, mothers too close to the ground to get noticed. This author had the experience of this on a dark day, on a lonely walk thinking through sadness, and a gentleman got off his bike, obviously a gardener, and gave me a rose but made me wait until he had broken the thorns off. By the last thorn the sadness was forgotten and my heart sang all week.

As Rudyard Kipling said, “God could not be everywhere, and therefore he made mothers.”

June 2022 Issue

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