Through the Ages

By Iride Aparicio

Madona and Child
Madonna and Child

SILICON VALLEY -- In Western Civilization's history, the visual representation of the affinity which unites a mother and her child, started during the Renaissance in Italy, when, during the 14th and 17th centuries the so called Master painters, (as the best painter were called) were paid to paint pictures of the Madonna, as the Virgin Mary holding Baby Jesus in her arms, was called by the Italians, on the walls of the Catholic churches, or decorating its altars.

Books describing the teaching of Art during the 14th to the 17th Centuries inform us that during those years, the Master painters in Florence owned " workshops" who may be compared to schools where young apprentices, (boys from the age of 7 to15 years old ) were brought by poor parents to learn a trade, which may include: Art and sculpture. The boys, lived in those workshops, where they were trained to paint, by looking at the pictures of the Madonnas which had been painted by their Master, and trying to imitate their composition, their perspective, the use of shadows in their cloth, the combination of colors. At times, the colors being created by the apprentices themselves, by grinding color seeds, and mixing them with oil or another medium.   

And because many Italians were Catholic, most families wanted to have a  painted picture of the Madonna in their homes, because for Catholics, the Virgin Mary, Jesus' mother, is consider their mother, because in her multiple  apparitions to different seers (as those who had seen images of the real Virgin Mary are called) She had called herself  "our mother".   Because of it Madonnas are believed to have the power to protect her children (us) from all evil

  Because of it, during those years in Florence, almost every home have a picture of the Madonna, and the copies painted by the apprentices sold on a day to day basis  because they were, oil pictures, but did not have the price of an oil picture, Being studies (18'' by 24'') they were small, and if they were not "perfect' they were perfect enough , resemble the original, and their price was much cheaper.

Pictorially, during the years filial love continued being portrayed as a picture of a child in his or her mother's arms. but "The Madonna" was replaced by a picture of a woman and her child.

Mother and Child
Photo courtesy: Ana Langova

Since then, we see pictures of mothers holding a child everywhere: in photographs, in newspapers, in magazines, in movies, in television, in our computers' screens and in adds, especially during the month of May where many countries celebrate "Mothers' Day" which is usually celebrated on May 10, in Mexico, Central America and other Spanish-speaking countries, and on the second Sunday in May, here in the United States where "Mother's Day as we know it today originated.

In l858, Ann Reeves Jarvis, a Church member of the Methodist Church and a social activist in West Virginia, working with women in different causes was appalled by the mortality of infant children in her state because of its unsanitary conditions. Trying to solve the problem she decided to organized with the women, a series of Mothers' Day Work Clubs with the purpose to educate young mothers to give their babies better sanitary care. Three years later (l861) when the Civil War started and the country was divided, but these women's clubs continue working together becoming the only unifying force in the country. 

Because of it, Jarvis decided to expand the focus of her Mothers' Day Work clubs and turn them more political. For years all her clubs have acted independently from each other, but during the Civil War, she decided to bring them together for on days she called "Mothers' Friendship Day,"  and on those days,  the women's husbands, must of them soldiers fighting in either the UNION of the Confederate Regiments  were invited to come to the clubs got with their wives, and as a group, spend that day discussing  ways they could promote a reconciliation among the  fighting regiments and unify the country again.

And because, during the years,  these mothers, had contributed, in part,  to end of the Civil War  (April 9, l865) the "Mothers' Day Work Club members began discussing the idea to have a day, every year, dedicated to honor women who were also mothers  and call it,  "Mothers' Day"  but the idea did not go anywhere.

Five years later, In l870, an abolitionist and suffragette woman by the name of JULIA WARD HOWE wrote a proclamation which she called "Mothers' Day Proclamation." It was a call for action, in which she asked all women who were mothers, to unite in promoting world peace. She campaigned for a "Mothers' Peace Day" and selected June 2 at the date to be celebrated Something similar, was pioneer and promoted by activist JULIET CALHOUN BLAKELY in Albion, Michigan, during the same year. But the ideas did not go anywhere.

mother and child
Photo Courtesy Anna Longova

At the end, what originated   'Mother's Day'  as we all know it today, were  the efforts of ANNA JARVIS, (the daughter of ANN REEVES JARVIS)  who in 1905, after  her mother's death, began reminded people of her mother's and other mothers contributions to society: to babies' survival, end of the Civil War, and unification of the country, among many other things and based on that suggested the creation of a day  with the sole purpose to honor motherhood and  the sacrifices that on a daily basis women made for their children.
So, after gaining the financial Backing of Philadelphia Department Store Owner JOHN WANAMAKER, in May l908, the first official "Mother's Day" was celebrated at the Methodist church in Grafton, West Virginia. On that same day, thousands of people in Philadelphia attended the first "Mother's Day Event" celebrated in the WANAMAKER's store.

And following the event with a massive letter writing campaign to newspapers and prominent politicians, ANNA JARVIS, saw "Mother's Day," added to the national calendar. In 1914, then President WOODROW WILSON signed a measure officially establishing the second Sunday in May as Mother's Day. in the United States.

Because of the pandemic, workers in different profession have been given the name of "Super Heroes As we celebrate "Mother's Day" in 2021, we would like to suggest that this year, all the mothers around the world, be added to the list of Super Heroes.