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Mothers Day in the UK is always celebrated on the fourth Sunday in Lent. Lent is the 40 day Christian fasting period that leads up to Easter.
Mother's Day in the USA is observed on the second Sunday in May. It was first started by Anna Jarvis with the first official Mother's Day being celebrated at the St. Andrew's Methodist Church in Grafton, West Virginia, on May 10, 1908.
During the 19th century, women's peace groups in the United States tried to establish regular activities in favour of peace and against war.
During the American Civil War, Anna's mother, Ann Jarvis, cared for the wounded on both sides of the conflict. She also tried to orchestrate peace between Union and Confederate mother's by forming a "Mother's Friendship Day."
When Ann Jarvis passed away in 1905, her daughter was devastated and continued her mothers's efforts as a way to memorialise her mother and the great work she did. She worked hard to promote a day that would honour all mothers officially.
The celebration of Mothers Day dates back to the era of early Romans and Greeks. At that time, they would celebrate the annual spring festival which they dedicated to adoring their Maternal Goddesses.
Mothers Day is traditionally called Mothering Sunday in the UK due to its religious history. Centuries ago it was not unusual for children as young as 10 to go off to work as domestic servants away from their families, most domestic servants would attend a church local to them on a Sunday, however it was considered important that they return to visit the main church in their area – their ‘mother’ church at least once a year – this became a day where they could reunite with family members and all come together at the same church. Along the way it was said children would often pick small flowers to gift to their mothers when they arrived at the church; this is where it is believed the practice of gifting your mother on Mothers Day comes from.
Of course now we gift with whole bouquets of flowers, cards , chocolates or specially chosen gifts that we know our mothers will love.
As we’ve established, Mothers Day falls within Lent, which is typically a period of fasting but the fasting rules were relaxed slightly on Mothering Sunday and a special cake called a Simnel Cake was typically baked and eaten with family.
A Simnel cake is a light fruit cake with a layer of marzipan on the top and in the middle, it traditionally features 11 balls of marzipan on top to represent the disciples excluding Judas. A simnel cake is something that can be enjoyed into the Easter period. Try Mary Berry’s Simnel cake recipe
Of course every country has their individual way of celebrating special occasions and Mothers Day is no different. Many countries celebrate it in similar ways to the way we do in the UK, but many have different traditions and festivities.
Whilst some parts of India celebrate Mothers Day on the same day as they do in the USA, Hindus in India celebrate the goddess Durga in October with a 10 day festival, named Durga Purga celebrating the triumph of good over evil via the exchanging of gifts.
In Ethiopia they celebrate with a three day feast and festivities known as Antrosht. Children will supply the ingredients for a traditional hash, which consists of lamb, butter, spices, cheese and vegetables, which the mother will cook. After everyone enjoys the meal, mothers and daughters will ritually rub each others faces in butter. The remainder of the night is spent dancing and singing with family.
In Brazil preparations begin a few days before Mothers Day, which they call as Dia das Mães. Restaurants, Shops and Families all prepare in advance to celebrate wholeheartedly the mothers in their families who hold special significance to them. Mothers Day is a big celebration in Brazil.
In Germany similar to Canada and America, they wear various colours of carnations in order to show their love and respect to their mother. A red coloured carnation is for all the mothers who are alive, white coloured carnations are worn to honour all mothers who have died.
In Japan they are not as focused on gifting material goods as we are in the West, they tend to gift their mother flowers too – mainly carnations as they are seen as a symbol of mothers love. It is said celebrating Mother’s day in Japan probably started during the Showa period during the time when Empress Kojun birthday is celebrated. However, some missionaries believe that it was started by Christian followers.
In Peru they celebrate Mothers Day enthusiastically in many different ways depending on which part of Peru you are. Celebrations range from dinner and lunches, to trips and partying throughout the week that Mothers Day falls. Free entry to many places is given to mothers on Mothers Day and many artistic performances happen throughout the day. There is also the tradition of honouring mothers that have passed away by going to the cemetery with drinks and food and celebrating lives of loved mothers, grandmothers and wives in a positive loving manner.
Fête des Mères as it’s called in France falls on the last Sunday in May. On some occasions the day gets shifted to the first Sunday of June when the Pentecost day is celebrated on the same day. The tradition of Mothers Day was originally brought to France by Americans fighting in World War I, it wasn’t until 1950 that it became an official celebration. It’s a joyful family affair in France and food is usually involved in the celebrations. It’s a wonderful opportunity - as in most countries to celebrate their mothers and express how much they value them.
Mother’s day is revered in the Philippines and is eagerly celebrated throughout the country. The day’s celebration starts with hearing mass in the morning and after treating mothers to a delicious meal perhaps, the rest of the day is spent at their mother’s favourite place(s). Beautifully, in Philippines all female members of the family are celebrated and honoured on Mothers Day - grandmothers, cousins, sisters, aunts.
In 1872 Julia Ward wrote a proclamation requesting all mothers help themselves rise during the war. However, it’s Anna Jarvis who is considered to be the originator of Mothers’ day. Her long effort in a bid to recognise the hard work a mother puts in while raising her child, led to Woodrow Wilson, the President of the country at the time declaring the second Sunday as Mothers Day.
We found this great resource from Clare Florist which details all of the dates that Mother’s Day is celebrated around the globe.
How do you typically celebrate Mother’s Day? Tell us in the comments below.