Just why do we have Mother’s Day
Did you know that Mother’s Day in the UK is held on a different date than that generally celebrated in the rest of the world? But, why is that the case?
Mother’s Day as it is now known in the UK is not officially not called Mother’s Day at all. The proper title of the day is Mothering Sunday. It always falls on the fourth Sunday of Lent, whereas Mother’s Day is held on the second Sunday in May. Mother’s Day was first recognised as a special day in the USA in the early part of the 20th-century. Championed by Anna Jarvis, Mother’s Day was introduced as a day to pay homage to mothers of past and present. It was given official recognition by President Woodrow Wilson in 1914. Then, it was seen as a way that Americans could pay tribute to all mothers who had lost sons in the Great War.
Mothering Sunday is now better known as Mother’s Day throughout the UK. It has been celebrated in Britain on the fourth Sunday in Lent since at least the 13th century. It is commonly thought that custom originated from the church festival of ‘Refreshment Sunday’. Traditionally on that day, everyone was expected to pay a visit to the church where they were baptised. That is to say their ‘mother church’. It usually followed that patrons would then go on to visit their mother. In such times, it was highly likely that mothers would still reside in the locality of the church.
By the mid-17th century, Mothering Sunday became as much about offspring cherishing their mothers as it was about honouring the church. However, the late 18th century saw the day begin to take on new meaning. By then, increasing numbers of people were moving well away from their place of birth. The many in service, i.e. servants, cooks, maids, etc., especially girls, would often be allowed leave for the day. This enabled them to visit their home church and families. It then became customary for these workers to take small food items for their mothers. This was especially appreciated after the fast of Lent. Simnel Cake became a particular favourite.
Today’s Mother’s Day
Today in the UK, Mother’s Day, or more properly Mothering Sunday, has been greatly commercialised in comparison to even the recent past. It is now almost compulsory to buy a Mother’s Day card, along with chocolates, and/or flowers, and/or a present, for the special day. Alternatively, you might consider taking your mother out for a meal. Book early – available places are filling up fast!
Header image credit: Evgeny Atamanenko/Shutterstock.com
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