Where Did Mother’s Day Come From?

As with many occasions like this throughout the year, Mother’s Day has come about through many years of changes and the convergence of differing reasons for celebrating it. But, still now in the 21st century, we set aside a day for our dear mothers – and celebrate everything that is great about them. So, how did it all start?

In the UK, Mothering Sunday had its original roots in a religious event, with the day falling on the 4th Sunday of Lent (which this year is the 30th March). Opinions differ, however much research suggests this day likely came about from an old Christian tradition – perhaps old as as the 16th-century – where there was a tradition of visiting your mother’s regular church, annually and can be found on http://happydaysblog.com/. Back then, with many people travelling far from home to find work and yet not having our now common-place methods of commuting, this would often be the only day of the year Mums were reunited with their children. On that days of , with Skype, emails, trains & planes to enable our either virtual or physical visits, it is of course alien to us that those sorts of limitations were placed on mother-child relationships!

It’s reputed that the custom was still observed up until around the start of the 19th century, but at that point things changed – the industry revolution put paid to many religious related festivals such as this and so this years-old tradition started to wane.

Separately, although somewhat inspired by the old Christian tradition, a lady by the name of Constance Smith from the U.S. worked to revive the idea of a ‘Mother’s Day’ and, whilst it took some years to take hold, once soldiers from World War 2 were heading home the tradition really started to gain traction again. In the UK, the idea of a ‘Mother’s Day’ from the U.S. morphed with the old Christian tradition and – ta-da – the modern Mother’s Day was born.

It is this latching of the U.S. Mother’s Day idea on to the traditional Christian Mothering Sunday, which led to us celebrating the event at different times of the year – in the U.S. it’s during May and in the U.K. it can be anywhere from 1st March right through until 4th April.

Nowadays, Mother’s Day is big business across the world – in the UK alone a total of £1.5 billion will be spent spoiling and recognizing our Mums, according to a 2013 Baines & Ernst study. The same study showed that sons and daughters across the UK will spend £250 million on luxury food and drink hampers, £90 million on jewelry, £60 million on that good old favorite, chocolate and, most popular of all, some 7 million bunches of flowers will be bought!

As well as all the gifts, there is of course, cards that will be sent – Mother’s Day represents the largest ‘spring season’ event of the year for Greetings Card retailers and publishers with some 30 million cards being sent at a value of around £55 million! Seems like a lot of money; however the Baines & Ernst report also gave readers cost saving ideas for the day. One of those key ideas was to ditch the gift and instead get creative and more personal with the card you send. It said “Cards are lovely, so take the time to find the perfect one. Add a carefully composed message and your mum will have a keepsake she’ll want to cherish forever.”

So, in this modern age, Mother’s Day (still called Mothering Sunday to some!), whilst being something commercially very different, is still often that one opportunity in the year Mums get to really re-connect with their children and a greetings card should be an integral part of that.