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What is Mother’s Day and Where Does it Come From?

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Mother’s Day is a yearly event that is celebrated over much of the English-speaking world (and by some non-English speaking nations), although different countries celebrate it on different days of the year.

In the US, this is celebrated in May. In the UK, it is celebrated three weeks before Easter Sunday – which, this year, means Mother’s Day will fall on 11th March.

Okay, But What Is it?

Mother’s Day is all about saying a big thank you to your mother for all the things she has done for you. Sometimes, it’s also about saying sorry for not appreciating her enough before… remember this 90s pop chart hit?

Yeah… I think many people can relate to being a less-than-perfect teenager to their poor mother in the past!

How Is It Celebrated?

Young children often spend the day at school making cards, painting pictures or writing poems about how much they love their mothers and why they think they are the best Mum in the world.

Teenagers and adults typically give cards, flowers or other presents, or take their mothers out for lunch to celebrate.

Where Does it Come From?

In the 19th and 20th centuries, two American women called Julia Ward Howe and Anna Jarvis established a new tradition. From 1870 until she died ten years later, Julia Ward Howe organised a special dinner in Boston to celebrate motherhood, which she called ‘Mother’s Day’.

Nearly 20 years later, in 1907, Anna Jarvis organised a private church service in memory of her mother, the sacrifices that all mothers make for their children, and the important work that women do in society. This turned into a yearly tradition at her church, and soon became known as ‘Mother’s Day’.

Anna Jarvis then campaigned for other cities to join in, and in 1914 President Woodrow Wilson made the second Sunday in May an official holiday: Mother’s Day. Later, Australia, Canada and other countries did the same.

So, you might be wondering… why do people from UK celebrate Mother’s Day in March?

Well, long before the American tradition of Mother’s Day began, Christians all across Europe observed another important holiday called “Mothering Sunday”. This was a particular Sunday during Lent when Christians would traditionally travel back to their “mother church” – as in, the church in their home town or village – for a special service.

Over time, people forgot that the point of the day was to go back to your mother church, and it started to be more about going back to visit your mother.

Then, when the idea of “Mother’s Day” spread to the UK from America, people though, “hang on a minute, we already celebrate that day,” even though the thing they celebrated was really completely different, it just sounded similar!

Instead of introducing a brand new Mother’s Day celebration, they simply squashed together the two different days into one holiday, held on Mothering Sunday.

And the funny thing is, most people in the UK have no idea that this is why they don’t celebrate Mother’s Day in May. Thanks to Mothering Sunday, many people think Mother’s Day in the UK is a very old tradition, instead of a new one. The English language is a strange thing!

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