Every year we see people posting beautiful messages of support, love and gratitude to their mothers on social media and panic. Because did we miss it? Surely it was just a few months ago? Has it been a year already and why the hell didn’t the card manufacturers remind me?!
Then we realise that it’s Mothers Day in the US and certain other countries but not the UK (phew!). So why is ours different?
Strangely enough, Mothers Day in the UK wasn’t founded - like those of other countries - to honour the role of ‘the mother’. In fact ‘Mothering Sunday’ (always held on the fourth Sunday of Lent) was the date that Christians were expected to visit their ‘mother church’. There's not an overwhelming amount of Christians left in the British Isles anymore, so the meaning of the date has been lost in the mists of time.
This is true of only a handful of countries; Guernsey, Jersey, Isle of Man, Ireland and - a left-field addition - Nigeria. The date celebrated in the US is the one now primarily followed throughout the world since, unusually for their culture, it is one not based on religion.
Their date - rather touchingly - is based on a Philadeliphian lady, Ana Jarvis’s campaign to have the date recognised by her church in 1907 as a day to honour mothers. The date she selected was the anniversary of her mother’s death (then the second Sunday in May) and following some strong campaign action, by 1911, she managed to have her mother (and everyone else’s) publicly honoured across the US.
Now Australia, Belgium, Denmark, Finland, Italy and Turkey all follow Ana Jarvis’s suggestion and offer their respects to their mothers on that same date.
One woman’s love for her mother influenced the habits of a large chunk of the Western world. Ana raised the bar very high for us all, so try to avoid the usual petrol-station bunch of flowers and last-minute chocolates this year!