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Origin of Mother’s Day, why UK and US celebrate on different dates & other fun facts

The woman behind Mother's Day in its modern form and other fun facts

Happy Mother's Day card

Mother's Day is a special day honouring mothers and mother-figures.

In its modern form, the holiday originated in the United States where it is celebrated on the second Sunday of May, as is the case with many other countries across the world.

Although the celebration of mothers and motherhood dates back to the ancient times with evidence of Greeks and Romans honouring mother goddesses Rhea and Cybele, modern-day Mother’s Day can be traced back to Anna Jarvis of Philadelphia, U.S.A.

It all started with Jarvis holding a small memorial service for her dear mother on May 12 1907 at her late mother’s church in Grafton, West Virginia.


Her act of honour for her beloved mother inspired the community and was embraced by other states and the world at large such that within five years, virtually every state in the U.S was observing the day in celebration of mothers and mother figures.

A decision by the US President Woodrow Wilson US to make it a holiday in 1914, celebrated on the second Sunday of May made it even more popular.

He declared the second Sunday in May as a day of "public expression of our love and reverence for the mothers of our country" and it quickly spread beyond the borders of the U.S.

What started as a noble initiative to honour mothers and mother figures soon took a commercial angle with companies using the holiday as a way to make money off people, much to the chagrin of Anna Jarvis.


Corporate America took over the holiday with companies turning it into a day to make a kill rather that one in which mothers and mother figures are celebrated.

1920 saw Anna Jarvis campaign against the holiday, urging the government to remove it from the calendar all together.

From flowers to well-deserved treats, holidays and gifts, nothing is off the table for those who wish to appreciate the mothers and mother figures in their lives.


In most countries in the world, the day is observed unofficially on the second Sunday of every May.

Other countries celebrate the day on different dates. Mother's Day 2024 was celebrated on March 10 in the United Kingdom (UK) Guernsey, Jersey, the Isle of Man, Ireland and Nigeria.

In the UK, the day, refereed to as Mothering Sunday began as a church tradition in which Christians who had moved away would visit their ‘mother church’ and mothers.


It is from this that the day derived its name –Mothering Sunday which has largely been replaced by Mother’s Day.

Celebrations vary and involve acts of gifting to mothers and mother figures who are presented with flowers, cards and other gifts.

The special bond between mothers (and mother figures) and their children is celebrated alongside the importance of “mothering” to the overall well-being the society.


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