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When Did Mother's Day Start in the UK?
Blog / Chocolate / When Did Mother's Day Start in the UK?

When Did Mother's Day Start in the UK?

Mother's Day, a heartfelt celebration honouring motherhood, has a rich and storied history in the UK.

But when did this cherished tradition actually begin? In this post, we delve into the origins of Mother's Day in the UK, tracing its evolution from a religious observance to the widely celebrated secular occasion we know today.

We'll explore how this special day, initially rooted in the Christian calendar as Mothering Sunday, gradually transformed into a national day of appreciation for mothers and mother figures.

Join us on a journey through time to uncover the fascinating beginnings and cultural shifts that have shaped Mother's Day into a beloved annual celebration.

When Did Mother's Day Start in the United Kingdom?

Mother's Day in the United Kingdom, known today for celebrating mothers and mother figures, originated from the Christian tradition of Mothering Sunday in the 16th century.

This day, observed on the fourth Sunday in Lent, was initially marked by Christians visiting their 'mother church' or the main church in their area.

This practice often led to family reunions, with children, especially those working as domestic servants, returning home to visit their mother and family.

Over time, Mothering Sunday transitioned from a religious observance to a more secular celebration focused on showing appreciation for mothers.

A common practice involved children picking wildflowers on their way to church to present to their mothers, a precursor to the modern tradition of giving gifts and cards.

The tradition experienced a decline in the early 20th century but was revived post-World War II, influenced by the American tradition of Mother's Day. American soldiers stationed in the UK promoted the celebration, leading to a resurgence of the holiday in the UK.

Today, Mother's Day in the UK mirrors global celebrations, where people express their gratitude towards mothers through flowers, cards, and gifts.

This day has become a blend of ancient religious roots and contemporary customs dedicated to honouring and appreciating mothers.

Related Post: Chocolate Films

A UK Mother and Baby Holding Hands

What is the History of Mother’s Day?

The history of Mother's Day is a fascinating blend of ancient traditions, religious observances, and modern secular celebrations.

It's a day dedicated to honouring and appreciating mothers, which has evolved significantly and varies across cultures.

  • Ancient Celebrations: The concept of a day for mothers can be traced back to ancient times. The Greeks and Romans held festivals honouring the mother goddesses Rhea and Cybele. These were some of the earliest celebrations linked to motherhood.

  • Christian Influence - Mothering Sunday: In the UK, the historical precursor to Mother's Day is Mothering Sunday. Originating in the 16th century, it was a religious observance on the fourth Sunday of Lent. Initially, it was a day when people returned to their 'mother church' – the main church or cathedral in their area. Over time, it became customary for young people working away from home to be given the day off to visit their mothers and families, bringing gifts or flowers.

  • Shift to a Secular Celebration: By the 20th century, Mothering Sunday had started to merge with the American Mother's Day, moving away from its religious roots to a more secular celebration of motherhood.

  • American Mother's Day: The American version of Mother's Day was created by Anna Jarvis in the early 20th century. Jarvis campaigned to establish a national day to honour mothers following her own mother's death. She envisioned it as a day of personal celebration between mothers and families. 1914, President Woodrow Wilson officially set aside the second Sunday in May for the holiday.

  • Global Adoption and Variations: While the UK and the US celebrate Mother's Day, other countries have their own versions, often tied to historical or religious events. For instance, Mother's Day is linked to International Women's Day or religious festivals in some countries.

  • Modern Celebrations: Today, Mother's Day is celebrated worldwide, and though the dates and traditions vary, the central theme remains the same: honouring and expressing gratitude to mothers. It typically involves giving gifts, cards, and flowers and spending quality time with mothers.

Mother's Day has evolved from ancient maternal festivals and Christian customs to a modern global celebration.

Despite its varied history and different forms of observance, the essence of the day remains the celebration of motherhood and the important role mothers play in society.

When is Mother’s Day in the UK?

In the United Kingdom, Mother's Day is celebrated on the fourth Sunday of Lent.

This day, traditionally known as Mothering Sunday, varies each year in accordance with the Christian calendar, as Lent's timing depends on the date of Easter.

For instance:

  • In 2023, Mother's Day in the UK was on March 19th.
  • In 2024, it will be on March 10th.

This date is distinct from the American Mother's Day, observed on the second Sunday in May.

The UK's Mothering Sunday has its roots in the Christian practice of visiting one's mother church.

It has become a more secular celebration where mothers are honoured with gifts, cards, and special attention.

Roses for Mother's Day

How is Mother’s Day Celebrated internationally?

Mother's Day is celebrated worldwide, though the date and the nature of the celebrations can vary significantly from country to country, reflecting diverse cultural traditions and historical roots.

  • United States and Canada: In these countries, Mother's Day is celebrated on the second Sunday in May, as established by Anna Jarvis. It's a secular celebration where mothers are typically honoured with gifts, cards, flowers, and special meals. It's one of the most commercially significant days in these nations, emphasising showing appreciation for mothers through tangible gifts and gestures.

  • Mexico and other Latin American countries: In Mexico, Mother's Day is celebrated on May 10th, regardless of the day of the week. It's a highly revered and festive day. Families gather for a special meal, and mothers are often serenaded with the song "Las Mañanitas".

  • Thailand: In Thailand, Mother's Day is celebrated on August 12th, the birthday of Queen Sirikit, regarded as the mother of the nation. The day is marked with parades and celebrations, and jasmine flowers are commonly given as they symbolise motherhood.

  • Ethiopia: In Ethiopia, Mother's Day is celebrated at the end of the rainy season as part of the Antrosht festival. It's a multi-day celebration that involves large family gatherings, feasting, and singing.

  • Other European Countries: Mother's Day is celebrated on the first Sunday in May in many European countries, such as Spain and Portugal. Like other nations, it involves giving gifts and spending time with family.

  • Australia: In Australia, Mother's Day is celebrated on the second Sunday in May, like in the US. Gifts, cards, and family outings are common ways to celebrate.

These diverse celebrations reflect the universal significance of mothers in cultures worldwide.

While the traditions and dates may vary, the common thread across all these celebrations is the recognition and appreciation of mothers' roles in families and societies.

Where Can You Buy Tasty Chocolate for Mother's Day?

For a delightful selection of chocolates perfect for Mother's Day, Whitakers Chocolates offers a specially curated range of gifts that are sure to please any mum.

Their exquisite offerings include elegant rose and violet creams, flower-themed chocolate truffle gift boxes, and specially crafted 'Happy Mother's Day' chocolate bars.

Click here to view our range of delicious chocolates.

Some Notes From an Expert Chocolatier

As an expert chocolatier, I find great joy in chocolate's role in celebrating the most cherished times of the year, like Mother's Day.

From selecting the finest ingredients to designing each piece, crafting chocolates is akin to creating edible art that captures the essence of these special occasions.

There's something deeply gratifying about knowing that the chocolates we make are part of people's celebrations, helping to convey love and appreciation.

The versatility of chocolate allows us to tailor our creations to different events, be it the richness of a dark chocolate truffle for a romantic Valentine's Day or the delicate floral notes in a chocolate for Mother's Day.

This ability to adapt and resonate with various celebrations makes chocolate not just a treat but a medium for expressing some of life's most beautiful sentiments.

Final Notes On the History of Mother’s Day

The history of Mother's Day is a rich tapestry that weaves together ancient traditions, religious observances, and modern cultural practices.

From its early roots in the ancient celebrations of mother goddesses to the Christian custom of Mothering Sunday and its transformation into a secular, global celebration, Mother's Day has continually evolved to meet societies' changing needs and sentiments.

Today, it is a testament to mothers' universal significance and invaluable role in our lives.

Celebrated in various forms worldwide, Mother's Day is a poignant reminder of the enduring bond between mothers and their children and the profound influence mothers have across cultures.

It's a day that transcends geographical and cultural boundaries, uniting us in the shared experience of honouring and appreciating the maternal figures in our lives.