Mother’s Day – what are the origins?

Mother’s Day is approaching the UK! The Brits are trying to think of creative ways to express one simple thing: the endless love for their mothers. Yet, many would be surprised to find out that, at least in UK, the mums were not main target of this celebration. Back in the 16th century, the apparent start of this tradition, it was all about celebrating church or the ‘mother churches’ to be more precise.

It was originally a day when poor children were given a day off so they could go home and worship Virgin Mary at their “mother church”. The children would occasionally pick flowers to give to their mums and bake special cakes – Simnel Cakes also known as Mothering Cakes.

Nowadays, the religious aspect of this day is not as sharp as it used to be with the day becoming all about having a nice big family meal and giving the mother various gifts and cards. But what about the rest of the world? Find out about different origins of this day around the globe. And trust us, some of them will surprise you.


USA is the ones responsible for the overall perception of the Mother’s Day around the globe: Flowers, cupcakes, tea and presents. As fun as it might seem, the origins of this 2nd Sunday of May celebration is nothing but tragic.

After losing her mum to measles, young activist Ann Marie Reeves decided to honour her mother by creating a women’s health awareness day. She built a community of young active mothers like herself to organize Mother’s Day work clubs. These clubs were aiming to improve the sanitary and health conditions in their communities.


Fête Des Mères takes place on the last Sunday of May, but is moved to the first Sunday of June in case Pentecost falls then. The day of celebration was first announced by Napoleon, who wished to reward mothers of large families and so encourage the population growth. This tradition was restored after the First World War, when mothers of four or more children were given medals for increasing the population after the massive loss.


It is believed that the Mother’s Day in Japan was first intended to be a day to honour emperor Akhito’s mother and was celebrated on her birthday – 6th of March. Yet the tradition was ended when the World War 1 begun.

The celebration was restored after World War II but the meaning behind tit changed completely. Millions of Japanese mothers who lost their sons to war turned this day into homage for their sons. Women joined in parades and marches holding red carnations in their hand as a way to tell their sons they love them.


Ancient Egyptians esteemed motherhood and celebrated it with an annual festival to worship one of the most important gods in the Egyptian mythology – Isis – the mother of the universe. During the festival, ancient Egyptians would light various sources of light to please the goddess and young women would pray Isis to help them to become mums.


Although this day has many different origins and even dates, the hero of the day, at least nowadays, always stays the same. would like to thank all mums out there for being so amazing and urges everyone to spoil their mums whether it’s Mother’s Day or not. To give you a hand spoiling your mum on 31st March, we’ve put together a selection of gift ideas: We can’t help you cook her dinner though, you’re on your own for that one!


Written by Diana Levit

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