In the UK, the fourth Sunday in Lent provides time to enjoy a firmly embedded tradition: Mother’s Day, which means breakfast in bed for mum, a (usually) hand-made card from the children and family meal.
The tradition dates back to the sixteenth century where people saw Mothering Sunday (note not yet Mother’s Day) as a time when they returned to their Mother Church. Domestic servants were given time off to visit their family and attend their mother church together and they were encouraged to pick wild flowers along the way to place in church or give to their mothers. This is where Mothering Sunday evolved to include the giving of gifts, particularly flowers and it has evolved a great deal more since.
Mother’s Day in the UK has become one of the biggest consumer spending days in the yearly calendar, with retailers seeing an increasing amount of cash spent, particularly online – it has become big business. A staggering 30 million cards are sent each year and it has become one of the busiest times of the year for pubs and bars!
It hasn’t always been so commercial however.
The event became known as ‘Mother’s Day’ and became the celebration that we now know in the 20th Century, when the UK and many other countries around the world took their lead from the USA and in particular a lady called Anna Jarvis. Anna held a memorial for her mother in 1908 and coined the term ‘Mother’s Day’, trademarked it and petitioned for it to be an official holiday, something which was recognised by all US States by 1911.
Anna fairly soon became resentful of the commercialisation and disagreed that companies were profiting, to the point of threatening lawsuits to stop the holiday.
Her efforts were fruitless and the holiday continues to be one of the most commercialised events in the national calendar to this day, with people spending up to three times more than on Father’s Day!.
Some more interesting facts about Mother’s Day
- Mothering Sunday is observed on 6th March 2016 by the UK, Ireland, Jersey, Guernsey, Isle of Man and Nigeria.
- Many countries will observe Mother’s Day on 8th May 2016 including the USA, Australia, Belgium, Denmark and Germany to name a few. See the full list here
- UK sons and daughters spend £30 on mum compared to £112 in Brazil!
- The world’s most prolific mother was the Russian Mrs. Vassilyev, who had 69 children in 27 pregnancies. She had no single births, but multiple sets of twins, triplets and quadruplets. 67 survived past infancy!
- Maddalena Granata of Italy, gave birth to a whopping 15 sets of triplets between 1839 & 1886.
- The Hindu population celebrate ‘Mother Pilgramage fortnight’, which is observed in April/May
- In France, in 1906 ten mothers who had nine children each were given an award recognising ‘High Maternal Merit’
- In Germany during the war the government promoted the ‘death of a mother’s sons in battle as the highest embodiment of patriotic motherhood’.
- Simnel Cake is a type of fruit cake that young girls in service used to take home to their mothers on their day off.
- 46% of people in the UK send a facebook or text message instead of a card!?
- In Japan it is traditional to give your mother a red carnation
- The most unusual gift idea we have seen this year is an ‘Eyezone Massager’!
- If you fancy giving your mum just a good old fashioned hug, try to not let go for at least 24 hr 33 min. Ron O’Neil and Theresa Kerr (both from Canada) hold the record for the longest hug in 2010.
To all the mothers out there… enjoy your day!