The fourth Sunday in Lent, that’s 6th March this year, is celebrated in the UK and Ireland as Mothering Sunday. But around the world countries celebrate mothers on different dates during the year. So who does what, and when?
When did Mothers Day start?
Mothering Sunday is an old tradition in the British Isles, and originally had very little to do with the person who gave birth to you. It was actually a day to visit your ‘mother church’ – the larger church or cathedral that controlled your local parish church.
Young people in service were allowed to visit their parents, often over a whole weekend, taking gifts for their mother at the same time. This is where some of the confusion arose.
‘Mother’s Day’ itself is a fairly new idea, only dating back to America in 1910. Anna Jarvis campaigned for a day set aside to honour mothers, having just lost her own mother.
Sadly she didn’t approve of the results from her own campaign, objecting loudly to over-commercialisation of the event in later life.
The first official Mother’s Day was held in her home state of West Virginia in 1910, and was made an official national holiday in 1914. In America, Mother’s Day is celebrated on the second Sunday in May, and many other countries have adopted this date.
Does every country celebrate on the same day?
Although you’d think Mothering Sunday was the dominant holiday, it’s not. The only country that celebrates on the same day as the UK and Ireland is Nigeria. Although a lot of countries celebrate Mother’s Day on the second Sunday in May, some have their own date.
Most Arab countries will celebrate on the 20th March, the spring equinox. Egypt was the first, in 1956, and the tradition spread from there.
Ex-communist countries usually celebrate a socialist International Women’s Day rather than Mother’s Day itself (although Ukraine and Belarus celebrate both).
And the ‘newest’ Mother’s Day is in one of the world’s newest countries – South Sudan. They celebrated their first Mother’s Day on the 2nd July 2012.
Whenever you celebrate Mother’s Day, remember the meaning – giving thanks to the woman who has given you everything (and spoiling her rotten, too).