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Why the UK and US Have a Different Mother’s Day

With Mother’s Day approaching there is the inevitable panic of many when they realise it isn’t in fact in May and they’ve gotten mixed up with the American date. This can then lead to them wondering what on earth the difference between the two days is anyway. To help you avoid any future years of last minute confusion, here’s why the two days are in fact different.

Mothering Sunday in the United Kingdom

Mother’s Day here in Blighty always falls on the fourth Sunday of Lent, which leads up to Easter Sunday. This is mother's daybecause the British Mother’s Day is deeply rooted in religious origin. The original purpose of the occasion was for Christians to visit their ‘mother church’, which gives greater insight as to why the official name of the occasion is Mothering Sunday. This would have been where they were baptised, a local parish, or the nearest Cathedral.

The day became predominantly about mothers instead of churches due the traditions that developed on the day. One of these was the act of giving servants the day off to worship at their church with their families, which was a very rare occurrence. Many of these servants would collect wild flowers to lay at the church or present to their own mothers, beginning the focus on familial bonds over religion. These traditions have stood and evolved into the more secular occasion untaken by most of the population. Although many Christians still maintain part of its original significance by attending church.

Mother’s Day in the United States

Mother’s Day in US differs greatly in its origin. The earliest significant examples of a mother focused day was in the late 19th century, which took the form of localised observations against war. The most well-known was the ‘Mother’s Day of Peace’ led by Julia Ward Howe, but this lasted for only around a decade.mother's day

An official Mother’s Day didn’t appear until 1905, which became a national holiday in 1914 to be held on the second Sunday of May. This was created by Anna Jarvis after the death of her mother Ann – who herself founded an early incarnation of Mother’s Day known as ‘Mother’s Friendship Day’.

The modern Mother’s Day in the US is now dominated by more commercial motives. Cards and flowers are unsurprisingly major business at this time – like in the UK. Additionally, spotting events like the IndyCar Grand Prix is held on the preceding Saturday every year. Despite the commercial aspect of the holiday happening very early, Anna Jarvis became a vocal activist against it and was even arrested in 1948 for disturbing the peace in protest.

It’s Still About Our Mum’s

The differing origins and dates of Mother’s Day often creates debate about the true meaning and whether or not the commercial side is appropriate, but for most people around the globe the meaning is the same: it’s about our mum’s. Whether that’s the person who raised us or the mothering figure in our lives, taken the time to appreciate what they do in our own ways has become the ultimate goal of the occasion.