Mother’s Day may conjure up images of cards, flowers and other gifts, but the origins of this celebration actually stem from mythology, sheep farming and cereal!
Mother’s Day is a much-respected tradition that now takes place all around the world, but it started many centuries ago with festivities dedicated to maternal goddesses.
The earliest known celebrations took place in ancient Greece, where participants gave thanks to Rhea, the mother of the gods. Next to adopt the tradition were the Romans, who organised an annual three-day celebration in honour of the mother goddess Cybele.
Fast forward a millennium or so to 17th Century Britain where on one designated day of the year, servants and apprentices – some as young as ten – were granted special leave to visit their mothers.
Just like the UK today, the holiday was celebrated on the fourth Sunday of Lent. Simnel cakes (light and fruity with two layers of marzipan) were often given as gifts and the fourth Sunday of Lent is still called Simnel Sunday in some parts of England.
By the 1800s, Mother’s Day had almost died out in Britain. But that changed with World War II. US soldiers stationed in the UK – lonely and missing their girlfriends, wives and mothers – revived interest in Mothering Sunday by celebrating their own version of this day.
Mother’s Day is commemorated around the globe, but the extent of the celebrations varies greatly. In some countries, it is regarded as offensive not to mark Mother’s Day. In others, it is a little-known festival celebrated mainly by immigrants.
The actual date is also a movable feast. In the US and most European countries, Mother’s Day falls on the second Sunday in May, although Spanish families celebrate the holiday on 8th December, the same day as the Feast of the Immaculate Conception. Many Asian and Middle Eastern nations honour their mothers on 10 May.
No matter where or when, appreciation is typically shown in the form of Mother’s Day presents. Flowers are a particular favourite; in the UK alone, grateful offspring will be splashing out an impressive £225 million on bunches and bouquets for their mums come Sunday 10th March