A Brief History of Mother’s Day

Mar 20, 2019

An ode to mothering figures everywhere, Mother’s Day is a firm fixture on the UK calendar; a day where we all rush to grab greetings cards, daffodils and boxes of chocolates. Though, have you ever wondered where this tradition started?

Unlike many of the Mother’s Day traditions the world over, the UK iteration of the family festival can be traced back to a date before the US version came into fashion.

Taking place on the fourth Sunday of Lent, exactly three weeks before Easter, Mothering Sunday has been around for hundreds of years. 

Traditionally a Christian holiday, the original Mothering Sunday was a universal day-off in the 16th and 17th centuries. It was a day when entire families, especially those working as servants or labourers with busy schedules, would get together to visit their “Mother Church”.

The Mother Church was usually the one in which you were baptised or at least the largest in the area. As part of the ceremonies, young children would pick flowers on the way to church to present to their own mothers. Over time, this small aspect of the day became an integral part, with the holiday transforming into a day to celebrate all things “Mum”. 

During the 1920s, Mother’s Day came back into fashion thanks to the efforts of Anna Jarvis in the US and Constance Penswick-Smith in the UK. Both women felt a celebration of our mothering figures was in order. 

Penswick-Smith launched the Mothering Sunday Movement and in 1921, penned a book advocating for the revival of the festival. 

Over the next 20 years, the holiday became increasingly commercialised, like many of the events throughout the calendar.

These days, the weekend event represents one of the leading days for flower sales in the UK, and the third highest holiday for greeting’s card sales.

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