Mother’s Day offers people around the world the chance to lavish their mums with cards and gifts, and to spend some quality time with their families. But where exactly did this important tradition come from?
Origins in the UK
In the UK, the event has roots dating as far back as the Middle Ages. During this period, a custom was developed that allowed people who had moved away from their home towns and villages to return to visit their mothers and churches on the fourth Sunday of the festival of Lent. This annual event became known as Mothering Sunday.
The American story
The tradition of Mother’s Day in the United States grew up completely independently of this British celebration and is even held on a different date. Marked on the second Sunday of May, it was kick started by a woman called Anna Jarvis in 1907. In that year, she held a small memorial service for her own mum. Soon, many places around the country were observing this day. Eventually, in 1914, President Woodrow Wilson made it a national holiday.
Now, Mother’s Day is celebrated in an impressive total of 50 countries across the globe.
There is an array of interesting facts concerning this special day. For example, after Christmas, it’s the most popular holiday for giving gifts. People enjoy treating themselves and their loved ones to restaurant meals on this occasion too. The US National Restaurant Association states that this is the most popular holiday for dining out in America.
Although lots of countries mark the occasion, they do so on different days. In much of the Arab world, it falls on 21 March. In Panama, however, mothers are put in the spotlight on 8 December, which is when the Catholic Church honours the Virgin Mary. In Thailand, Mother’s Day occurs on 12 August, which is the birthday of Queen Sirikit.
Many people are confused by the positioning of the apostrophe in the phrase Mother’s Day. However, it makes perfect sense when you consider the thought process of the woman behind the phenomenon. Anna Jarvis wasn’t thinking about celebrating all mothers; she was focussing on her own. This is why she stressed the singular rather than the plural.
Of course, these are just some of the fascinating facts surrounding Mother’s Day. For more, you can check out this Thornton’s mother’s day infographic.
Image by deltaMike, used under Creative Commons licence