Mothering Sunday – The history and traditions of Mother’s Day

Mothering Sunday or Mother’s Day as it is commonly called, is a holiday which is celebrated around the world in order to recognize motherhood.

Mothering Sunday mother’s day

The practice of celebrating motherhood has been traced back to the Ancient Greek and Roman times. when festivals honoring the mother goddesses, Rhea and Cybele were held. However the the most modern occurrence of such a festival known as “Mothering Sunday” was founded by the early Christians.

This year 2019 this special day occurs on Sunday March 31st in the UK and on Sunday May 12th in the US.

Mothering Sunday in the United Kingdom

The UK version of Mothers’s Day was originally a religious holiday. It always takes place on the fourth Sunday of the Christian festival of lent and 3 weeks before Easter Sunday.

Around the sixteenth century, children who had left their families to work elsewhere were allowed to attend their ‘mother church’ meaning the main church in their hometown. It had little to do with mothers as it has today.

This tradition changed over time to a more secular holiday when children would present their mothers with flowers, cards and other gifts as tokens of appreciation. The custom became less popular over time until the 1930s and 1940s when it merged with the American version.

The United States Version of Mother’s Day

Most of Europe, Africa and South America follow the US version of this holiday. This year the official date is Sunday 12th May.

The national holiday was created by Anna Jarvis in 1908 and became official in 1914.

Her mother Ann Reeves Jarvis had originally helped to start “ Mother’s Day Work Clubs” back in the 19th century just before the civil war in order to teach women how to care for their children.

When a large part of the country was still divided over the Civil War in 1868, Jarvis organized “Mothers Friendship Day” in order to reconcile former Union and Confederate soldiers.

In 1870 the “Mother’s Day Proclamation” was written by the abolitionist and suffragette Julia Ward Howe. Mothers were encouraged to promote world peace and Howe campaigned for a “Mother’s Peace Day’ to be celebrated every year on June 2nd.

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How it all began

It was however Anna Jarvis that created Mother’s Day as a way of recognizing the sacrifices that a mother makes for her children.

With financial help from John Wanamaker, Anna Jarvis organized the first ever ‘Mother’s Day’ celebration at a Methodist church in Grafton, West Virginia. Thousands of people also attended a “Mother’s Day” event on the same day at one of Wannamaker’s retail stores in Philadelphia.

Jarvis, who was unmarried and had no children was determined to mark this day as a national holiday in honor of all mothers. By 1912 many towns and churches were celebrating this event and in 1914, the second Sunday in May was officially recognized as “Mother’s Day”.

Commercialization of Mother’s Day

Jarvis’s vision of a celebration between mothers and their children was soon commercialized by florists, confectioners and other merchants. By 1920, she had become so disgusted with the situation that she tried her best to stop people buying flowers and other gifts. She launched many lawsuits in an attempt to stop groups from using the name of “Mother’s Day” on which she spent most of her personal wealth until she died in 1948.

Mother’s Day in other parts of The World

Other versions of Mother’s Day are celebrated around the world and traditions vary depending on the country.

Most European countries, Australia, New Zealand, India, China, Japan, the Philippines and South Africa all celebrate on the second Sunday in May.

In Thailand it is always celebrated on August 12th as it is Queen Sirikit’s birthday and declared a national holiday. It was first celebrated in the 1980s as part of campaign to promote Thailand’s Royal family

The jasmine flower resembles motherhood in Thailand and is often given as a traditional Mother’s Day  gift. Ceremonies are held throughout the day in schools and temples.

Ethiopia also celebrates motherhood on the second Sunday in May as part of a three day festival called “Androsht”

Mother’s Day Today

In The US this holiday has become one of the biggest holidays for consumer spending and Is also popular in many parts of the world. It has also been a time for launching political or feminist causes.

Despite all this it is a great time for everyone to recognize the importance of motherhood.

This year, why not treat your Mum to a meal in a fancy restaurant or give her something that she can keep for many years to come?

Rings always make a great gift for any occasion and you can check out a selection available from our Top 5 Online Ring Stores.

Alternatively, Tru-Diamonds are offering some great deals on rings and other jewelry especially for Mother’s Day.


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I have been working in the fashion and jewellery industry since the mid 1970s when I started work in a seaside gift shop selling costume jewellery and fashion accessories. I worked for many years in the UK as a musician and electronics engineer and started my own business in 1995 as the owner of Ringmania.
After living in Phuket, Thailand for 15 years, I am now based in Sheffield UK since July 2019
Please contact me using the link below if you have any questions about Ringmania or any of our products/services.

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