A Short History of Mother’s Day
Mother’s Day: Celebrations of mothers and mothering may go back thousands of years to pre-Roman times but the modern celebration has two main influences.
The giving of gifts for Mother’s Day, particularly flowers, seems to have developed from the old medieval holiday of “Mothering Sunday”. Mothering Sunday was a major event in the annual calendar. On this day people returned to worship at their “Mother” or home church – it was also the one day of the year when servants were given a day off to attend at their home church. Many servants were reunited with their families who they had not seen since the previous year and therefore the date became a significant date of celebration. The returning servants often gathered spring flowers as part of this celebration and as a gift for their mothers’.
The second main influence is from a US campaign which established Mother’s Day as a holiday in 1914. It started as a semi-religious campaign but has become more secular with time. It was led by Anna Jarvis who sought an annual date to publicly recognised the work of mothers and the role they play in society.
The old religious traditions have mixed and merged with the secular celebration but in Ireland & the UK the date when Mother’s Day falls is still determined by its medieval religious roots. The date changes yearly as it is based on the date Easter Sunday falls which is based on the changing lunar cycle. *
Wherever and whenever Mother’s Day is celebrated the giving of flowers has become an important part of this special day.
*How to calculate the date Mother’s Day falls on in Ireland & the UK.
In Ireland and the UK, Mother’s Day falls on the fourth Sunday of Lent. Lent starts forty days before Easter Sunday. Easter Sunday falls on the first Sunday after the first full moon after the Vernal Equinox on 21st March (Vernal meaning Spring and Equinox roughly meaning night-time is the same length as daytime).
In many other countries the date is fixed as the second Sunday in May (USA, Canada, Australia, India, Brazil, Denmark, Finland, Italy, Japan, New Zealand, Singapore, South Africa, Turkey, Germany and Greece. Other countries use the first Sunday in May including Austria, Netherlands, Spain, Hong Kong, Taiwan and Portugal while some other countries have their own unique variations that derive from local traditions and festivals.
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