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A history of Mother’s Day Posted On 09 March 2018

Throughout history, Mother’s Day has been a way of showing love and gratitude to the women who raised us; whether that be with a bunch of flowers or a box of chocolates. You may be surprised to learn how its meaning, and the attitudes of people towards this day, have actually changed over the centuries

The earliest known celebrations of Mother’s Day are thought to have begun with the ancient Greeks and Romans who honoured the goddesses of motherhood, Rhea and Cybele. In the UK, what we now know as Mother’s Day dates back to the 1600s. On the fourth Sunday of Lent, a church service honouring the Virgin Mary would take place and children would buy gifts and flowers to show their gratitude to their own mothers.

By the 19th century however, this celebration had all but died out, only being revived after World War 2, when American servicemen bought back the custom to the UK. It was, in fact, an American woman named Anna Jarvis who breathed new life into Mother’s Day. Following her mother’s death Anna set about campaigning to have Mother’s Day marked as an annual holiday, as a way of honouring the sacrifices mothers make for their children.

However, after successfully having Mother’s Day added to the national calendar, it wasn’t long before merchants capitalised on its popularity and Jarvis quickly became enraged by how commercialised this special day had become. She felt that this was a day to be spent showing how much you appreciated your mother, not necessarily through gifts but by spending time together. She spent the rest of her life campaigning to have Mother’s Day removed from the calendar, although ultimately she was unsuccessful.

Did you know?

In the UK, the date of Mother’s Day varies from year to year but is normally in late March or early April depending on the date of Easter; this is because it always falls on the fourth Sunday of Lent.

Interesting facts

  • Mother’s Day is celebrated in over 40 countries around the world although not all of us celebrate this occasion on the same day.
  • Children in Japan celebrate Mother’s Day by drawing pictures of their mothers, called My Mother; these are then entered into an exhibit that travels to many different countries around the world.
  • Mother’s Day is of huge importance in Taiwan as it falls on the same date as the Buddha’s birthday – the second Sunday in May.
  • In Yugoslavia and Serbia Mother’s Day is celebrated two weeks before Christmas.
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