Sarah Hazelwood

Celebrating Mother’s Day

Mother’s Day is celebrated in over 40 countries around the world. But, despite falling on different days of the year the spirit behind Mother’s Day or Mothering Sunday, as it’s originally known, is the same wherever you are.

This heart-warming occasion sees children showering their mums with gifts and tokens to express their love, gratitude and appreciation for everything they’ve done.

Here in the UK, Mothering Sunday is celebrated on the fourth Sunday of Lent. Its origins date back to the 16th century, making England the first country in the world to dedicate a day for this event. During this time it was considered important for churchgoers to visit their home or ‘mother’ church once a year.

Over time it became the day children, mainly daughters, who had gone to work as domestic servants, were allowed home to see their mothers and their families. They would have also picked flowers along the way to give to their mother when they arrived. Unfortunately, the tradition came to a head with the advent of the Industrial Revolution, but its revival came about in 1913, when High Anglican Constance Smith was inspired after reading a report of Anna Jarvis’s American campaign - I’ll tell you more about this now…

In America Mother’s Day is a national holiday and falls on the second Sunday in May, as proclaimed by President Woodrow Wilson in 1914. It is marked on this day as a result of a campaign by Anna Jarvis, whose mother died on 9th May 1905. She believed that mothers everywhere deserved their own special day and she fought for many years to make this happen. By 1911 it was celebrated in almost every state, with flowers quickly becoming a lasting tradition and sign of love. In 1914 congress passed a resolution designating the second Sunday in May as Mother’s Day.

Over time the event grew but Anna regretted how commercialised it became. She said:

“A printed card means nothing, except that you’re too lazy to write to the woman who has done more for you than anyone in the world.” 

Everyone has their own ways of celebrating Mother’s Day, but how exactly do other countries pay tribute to the inspirational mums, grandmothers and other mother-like figures? I did a little research and discovered that there’s far more to Mother’s Day than meets the eye.

India

The concept of celebrating Mother’s Day on the second Sunday in May is fairly new in India. However, a more long-standing tradition is the Hindu festival, known as the Universal Mother, which is celebrated for 10 days every October. During this time the community reflects on the importance of mothers in society, whilst cards, gifts and an invitation to a meal are given as a token of love.

Spain

As with many other countries, Mother’s Day has become a bit of a commodity in Spain, but on the first Sunday in May, Spanish children traditionally give their mothers’ handcrafted gifts and greeting cards, rather than just buying something from their local store.

Australia

Mother’s Day in Australia grew from the US and as such is very similar. They also share a tradition, which sees people wearing a carnation – if it’s coloured it signifies that the person has a living mother and if it’s white it shows that their mother has passed away.

Japan

To mark Mother’s Day young children draw pictures called ‘My Mother’. These are then entered into an exhibit, which travels to many countries across the globe.

Canada

Mother’s Day is the most popular festival after Christmas and Valentines Day. On the second Sunday in May children pay tribute and show thanks to their mothers through cards and flowers.

Sweden

In the run up to Mother’s Day plastic flowers are sold. When Mother’s Day arrives the money is collected together and sent to mums whose children are on vacation and not around to share the day with them.

Mexico

Mother’s Day is also known as Dia de las Madre and is celebrated with gusto on 10th May as churches deliver special mass. In the run up to the event sons and daughters flock to their mother’s house on the eve of Mother’s Day, which is observed nationwide and marked by special events, hosted by schools, churches, cities and civic groups. The high point is an orchestra, which plays Las Mañanitas, while the traditional early morning meal of tamales and atole is given out to all local mothers.

That’s how Mother's Day is celebrated across the globe but how will you be honouring the special lady in your life this Sunday? If writing this article has shown me anything, it’s that Mother’s Day is about far more than just cards and flowers. So, my advice is, don’t be afraid to do something a little different this Sunday, there are so many other ways to show just how much you care.