March 03, 2018 4 min read
Mother’s Day in our house seems to get louder every year. Probably because we’ve been adding to our family for the past 12.
An early morning wakeup call at 6.30am. Giggly small faces. Hushed voices “Shush don’t wake her up” (which promptly wakes the baby up). Homemade cards and a rather interesting looking hot chocolate in bed.
I’m up almost immediately for various children’s clubs and there’s a small mountain of homework to tackle in the afternoon, just like every Sunday, so the day inevitably ends up being pretty ordinary, but breakfast in bed has become something of a must for Mother’s Day, Father’s Day and every parental birthday.
Of course, whether you’re a mother, step mother, foster mother, surrogate mother or fur baby mother, Mother’s Day is the perfect occasion to celebrate.
It only comes around once a year and it’s the day we let our mums know just how special they are to us.
The joy of Mother’s Day (for most mothers) isn’t the bouquet of flowers (although they are very lovely), it’s the acknowledgement that we’re appreciated and noticed. And that’s important.
It’s not about gifts. But it is about giving and that old adage, “it’s the thought that counts” definitely rings true here.
To celebrate the importance of the big day, I’ve put together a collection of little-known (and perhaps a few widely known) facts about Mother’s Day.
I’m going to focus on the UK holiday here, as the US version of Mothering Sunday has a completely different history, or else I’ll be rambling on forever.
But if you’re a sucker for tradition, you’ll feel right at home with what I’ve unearthed.
In Britain, we don’t celebrate Mother’s Day. Mother’s Day’s is an American festival. We celebrate Mothering Sunday, a Christian festival that falls on the fourth Sunday of Lent. It’s often called Mother’s Day (and that’s what we’ll call it here) but it isn’t the same thing at all.
Mothering Sunday originates from the 16th century. It became a tradition back then that servants would make an annual visit to their mother church on the fourth day of Lent for a special service and to pray. On this particular day, they were also usually granted permission to see family - a rare opportunity for servants of the Church.
In America, they celebrate Mother’s Day, not Mothering Sunday. Mother’s Day for them falls on the second Sunday in May, while Mothering Sunday for us Brits falls on the fourth Sunday of Lent. A big difference!
A lady named Anna Jarvis is credited as being the creator of the American festival Mother’s Day. Following the death of her own mother in 1914, she set up a campaign to honour mothers. Her campaign received national coverage. Then president Woodrow Wilson signed a proclamation designating the date as the second Sunday in May.
Mother’s Day is now largely a secular festival, and in countries where this is the case, it’s one of the largest for gift giving. Only Christmas ranks higher. It beats out Valentine’s Day and Father’s Day, with a gift-giving ratio of 3-1! Better get wrapping…
Perhaps not unsurprisingly, Mother’s Day is the biggest event of the year (and the biggest cash cow) for florists. According to the Flowers & Plants Association, sales of cut flowers rise by 40 per cent and carnation sales by 80 per cent on Mother’s Day. A guaranteed earner.
The traditional Mother’s Day flower is the carnation. Pink carnations represent gratitude and love. White carnations represent admiration. A mixture of pink and white carnations is the classic ‘bunch’ for Mother’s Day. White carnations, on their own, are traditionally given to deceased mothers at their grave sites.
In Europe, over 70 million phone calls are made to mums on Mother’s Day. In America, a staggering 122 million phone calls are made. And let’s not forget about the millions of text messages and social media messages. That’s a lot of love!
Postmen have a job on their hands! It’s estimated that around 30 million Mother’s Day cards are sent out each year in Great Britain alone, at a cost of £45 million. Factor in the rest of the world, and at least 500 million cards get sent out.
In years past, daughters would bake a Simnel cake (a light fruit cake) for their mothers. Legend has it that if the Simnel cake was still moist come Easter, then the daughter would be proclaimed a good cook. Flowers are the modern equivalent of the Simnel cake – they’ve always been popular but are even more so in modern society.
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