Every March in the UK, there is a Sunday dedicated to celebrating Mothers. Whether that be your own Mum, Grandmother, Step-Mum, Mother-in-Law, a motherly figure, or you are celebrating the mother of your children, or perhaps remembering your mum that has passed away.
Mother’s Day in the UK and Ireland is celebrated on the 4th Sunday during lent, which falls on the 19th of March this year. But how did this day which is marked in all our calendars, come to be, and why do different countries have different dates for Mother’s Day?
The history of Mother’s Day in different countries.
Mother’s Day UK
Officially known as Mothering Sunday, the day originates from a religious celebration, dating back to the 16th century, in which people gave thanks to the Virgin Mother Mary. The celebration would require people to go to the main church in their family area (their ‘Mother’ church) even if this was now many miles away, making it a true family occasion. Families would unite for the day and even workers, such as servants, who would normally work on Sundays, would be given the day off to spend with their families and see their mothers. As time moved on, the day evolved and become a day to celebrate and appreciate all mothers, not just the Mother Mary.
Mother’s Day USA
Mother’s Day in the US, Canada, and many other countries is celebrated on the second Sunday in May and was only formed in 1908. Created by a lady named Anna Jarvis from West Virginia, who pushed for a national holiday to celebrate all mothers, in honour of her late mother. The holiday fast became very commercialised, making it one of the biggest days for sales of cards and flowers in the US – often nick-named the Hallmark Holiday.
Mother’s Day Australia
First celebrated in Australia in 1924. Janet Heyden from Sydney was inspired to collect charitable gifts for lonely, elderly mothers in hospitals who had lost husbands and sons during WW1. After this success, the charity drive became a yearly event, until it was so well established, it became a day celebrating mother’s across Australia. The date is now always the second Sunday in May.
Mother’s Day in France
In France, Mother’s Day is known as La Fête des Mères, which typically takes place on the last Sunday in May or the first Sunday of June. The French holiday dates back to the 1800s but was adopted as a way to honor the mothers of large families whose husbands had fought in World War I.
Mother’s Day Traditions
In the UK, food often goes hand in hand with different traditions and holidays, think Hot Cross Buns for Easter, Mince Pies at Christmas. The traditional food item associated with Mothering Sunday is Simnel cake, a fruit cake with 2 layers of marzipan. People would have cooked the cake and given it to their Mother, which would have been considered a big treat in the middle of lent, relaxing the rules for that day. The cake is made with 11 balls of marzipan icing on top representing the 11 disciples. (Judas is not included.)
During Mother’s Day celebrations in Australia and Canada, carnations are often worn by sons and daughters on the day. The colour of the carnations worn indicates if someone’s mum has passed away, with coloured carnations representing mums who are living, and white carnations being worn by those people whose Mothers are no longer with us.
In Australia, gifts are always usually accompanied by a chrysanthemum flower as a symbol of respect.
Most countries celebrate with cards, flowers, gifts, and big family meals to celebrate their mum on Mother’s Day.
Thoughtful and fun way to celebrate Mother’s Day
You don’t have to spend a fortune, to show your Mum that you care, or how thankful you are for all she does. Whether your age is 5 or 55, there are so many fun activities you can do together, things you can make, or little events you can host to celebrate your mum.
Below are a few ideas on how to celebrate Mother’s Day without breaking the bank.
Mother’s Day Breakfast in Bed
- Breakfast in bed is always a great way to spoil Mum on Mother’s Day! Even the littlest of kids can get involved in carrying in a tray of toast and orange juice for their mum to enjoy in bed. The older the children, the more inventive you can get with the Breakfast in Bed options, perhaps a pot of tea, or coffee, or you really push the boat out by including some bucks fizz. You could serve her favourite eggs, or perhaps a bacon sandwich. Add a new book or a magazine she hasn’t read, so she can enjoy a slow morning.
Mother’s Day Picnic
- The weather in March can be a little hit or miss, when the weather is mild and beautifully springlike, a picnic can be the perfect low-key Mother’s Day treat. You can pack up all of her favourite treats, and refreshments, then head off to a pretty parkland or public garden. This is a great activity to do with the whole family and can be inclusive of all age ranges. If we aren’t so lucky with the weather, think outside the box, and perhaps make an indoor picnic. Set out a rug in the living room, and some wooden boards with sandwiches, snacks and fruit upon. You could watch your mum’s favourite movie together, play some family games and generally have a good old-fashioned family afternoon in.
A Mother’s Day Meal
- Taking Mum out for a meal on Mother’s Day is a common tradition on Mothering Sunday. Why not spin on tradition, and make your Mum a slap-up meal. If children are very young, they could be the sous chefs, or perhaps the waiters and waitresses for the night, get Dad involved in the main cooking. Have a think about what her favourite foods are, and make a 3 course meal of all her favourites. Or perhaps, give the meal a theme, perhaps Italian, Mexican, or Greek, this can be a great way to make a meal special, tailoring the drinks to the specific country and all the pieces on the menu.
Mother’s Day Help
- Help your Mum tackle the to-do list and have her put her feet up. Why not spend the day, helping to do all the things she usually does, so that she can spend her time relaxing, and enjoying the day? It may be that you help with house chores, such as tidying or cooking. You could run errands for her, pick up items she may need to get in town, or things to arrange. Something as simple as taking the dog for a walk, washing her car, or doing a spot of weeding in the garden. Sometimes the simplest of gestures, have the biggest impact.
Mother’s Day Afternoon Tea
- Afternoon Tea is always a wonderful treat and a quintessential British pastime. It’s the perfect afternoon treat to do at home, especially if your mum has a sweet tooth. Make it a proper event, by dressing a table in delicate table clothes, and mismatched teacups and saucers (charity shops are a great place to find these at bargain prices). For a proper afternoon tea, make little crustless triangle sandwiches on a platter. For dessert, add mini cakes, pastries, and scones to a tiered cake stand. This is also something you can thrift in charity shops. For a very memorable day, you could bake some of the cakes or scones together, which would be a fun activity, and then you get to enjoy the fruits of your labour.
Mother’s Day Floral Bouquet
- Flowers are often given to Mum on Mother’s Day. A beautiful bouquet can really brighten the home, and it is a wonderful way to let your mum know you appreciate them. Big bouquets can be expensive, and sometimes out of budget. Why not think about making your own bouquet, full of your mum’s favourite seasonal flowers? You can pick up beautiful flowers at really good prices, from local markets. Flowers in florists, that are in season and grown in the UK, will be much better priced, than flowers shipped in from another country. For an extra special activity, why not make the bouquet together, you could even make a few smaller posies, to make beautiful table centrepieces.
Mother’s Day Photo Book
- Special memories with your mum, are something unique to both of you. These days we often have thousands of photos on our phones, which ultimately just stay there. A scrapbook made up by you for your mum, is such a simple, yet thoughtful gift. Select which photos you’d like to print out at home or in your local print shop. Perhaps add tickets from events you have been together, old cards, and quotes, and add them into a scrapbook, for a gift she will cherish.
Some of our favourite Hampers and Gifts for Mother’s Day: