Here's How Mother's Day Tradition in the US Differs from UK's Mothering Sunday


Mother's Day is an ubiquitous celebration observed by most cultures across the globe. But while it is celebrated universally as a special day to honor our mothers, it is not the same as the American Mother's Day and the British Mothering Day.

Mother's Day in the United States

The Mother's Day celebration we have known today that's celebrated every second day of May, began in the United States of America in May 1908. It was founded by Anna Jarvis of West Virginia.

Anna Jarvis, the founder of Mother's Day

Anna Jarvis (1864-1948), a social activist, launched a campaign in the year of her mother's death. 1905, to make Mother's Day a recognized holiday in the United States. 

It was rejected by the U/S Congress.

On May 10, 1908, three years after her mother died, she held a ceremony at Andrew's Methodist Episcopal Church in honor of her mother and all mothers. By 1911, most states in the U.S began observing it as a holiday.

Finally, in 1914, US President Woodrow Wilson signed a proclamation designating the second Sunday of May as a national holiday to honor all mothers, motherhood and maternal bonds.

Although Anna Jarvis succeeded on her campaign to make it a national holiday, she resented the fact that business establishment began profiting on the celebration. 

Too much commercialization of the Mother's Day celebration led to Jarvis to boycott the occasion and even launched a campaign to revoke the proclamation of making it a national holiday.

Her fierce campaign to repeal the proclamation was halted when she was put in a sanitarium for her mental health. She died a broken woman.

Adopted by most countries

The American Mother's Day celebration on the second Sunday of May has been adopted by most countries, including the Philippines, Germany, Australia, Canada, Japan, South Africa etcetera.

In the Philippines, though not part of the Filipino culture, Mother's Day was adopted due to the country's strong American colonial influence.

Though not considered a national holiday, Mother's Day, just like Father's Day and Valentine's Day, in the Philippines is too much business hype. 

Mothering Sunday

However, there are countries that followed a different custom when it comes to Mother's Day. 

In the United Kingdom, Ireland and most English-speaking countries, it is called Mothering Sunday. It has nothing to do with the American Mother's Day celebration. 

Queen Elizabeth II of Britain and her only daughter, Anne, the Princess Royal

Mothering Sunday falls every fourth Sunday of Lent honoring mother churches and mothers. And it has something to do with medieval Christian traditions of taking pilgrimage to churches.

It began as a religious event in the 16th century. Every fourth Sunday of Lent, people who left home to work somewhere else or move to another home (such as marriage) were allowed to return home to visit their mother churches (where they received their baptism) for a special service.

Its association with mothering has something to do with the texts read during the Mass in the Middle Ages. Over the centuries, the Mothering Sunday included a visit to honor mothers in the household.

Although today, Mothering Sunday is celebrated to honor all mothers, in the United Kingdom it is still observed the way it is during the Middle Ages.

The Church of England encourages people to visit their mother churches on the fourth Sunday of Lent to attend a special service.

So how it differs?

While the Mother's Day celebration we know today was founded by Anna Jarvis to honor all mothers and maternal bonds, the Mothering Sunday in the United Kingdom rooted in religious remembrance.

However, both celebrations are now being commercialized, with too much hype from business establishments marked by special cards, cakes, gifts, flower arrangement and elaborate dinner set-up.

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