It’s Mothers Day today. Or is it? The answer is, it depends where in the world you are. The UK, and some other countries, celebrate what is commonly known as Mothers Day on Mothering Sunday, the Christian festival that falls on the fourth Sunday in Lent. As far back as the sixteenth century, people would return to their “Mother Church” – the main one in the area – and this might require some servants to have time off. Younger staff would have had an opportunity to visit their families, including picking flowers on the way. Over the years, this became the more familiar concept of honouring mothers rather than the mother church.
In the USA, Anna Jarvis’ mother died in 1905, and two years later on 12th May 1907, she had a memorial to her late mother. Jarvis started a campaign for a Mothers Day memorial, and in 1914, the US adopted the 2nd Sunday in May as Mothers Day. Sadly, she quickly became disillusioned with what had quickly become a commercial event, and she spent her inheritance campaigning against what the holiday had became. She never had children herself.
Constance Adelaide Smith, the daughter of an English vicar, heard of this and campaigned for Mothering Sunday to be used to honour mothers across the British Empire, which is still the case. She also died without becoming a mother herself, and is buried in Coddington, Nottinghamshire.
Of course, like Christmas, Mothers Day in the UK is celebrated as much as a secular – and a consumer – occasion as a religious one. This is my first Mothers Day as a parent, and the first time buying a Mothers Day card on behalf of my son, an exciting stage in life. I have seen it as Mothers Day, Mother’s Day and Mothers’ Day, so it seems there is some interpretation available as to whom the day belongs.
So whether today is Mothers Day or not depends on where in the world you are. However, if you are lucky enough to have a mother that you love and care for, why not celebrate it anyway?