Where did Mothering Sunday and Mothers Day originate from?

The origins of Mothering Sunday began in the religious calendar, and was held on the fourth Sunday in Lent as a way to honour and give thanks to the Virgin Mary, also known as Mother Mary.

Also, it is thought that back in the 16th century when children would be working away from home as domestic servants, from as young as ten years old, they were allowed to return to their families and celebrate in the “Mother Church”.

This was a way of reuniting families and giving young working children the opportunity to have a day off to join their families and visit their own mothers.

However, the popularity of the celebration started to dwindle until World War II, it was then celebrated by the Americans and Canadians who felt it was crucial to give thanks to their mothers whilst they were away at war.

The British and European armed services followed their allies in this celebration and it then became a yearly celebration of all mothers, grandmothers etc across the world.

But way back before the American Civil War (1861-65) a lady named Anna Reeves Jarvis of West Virginia helped to create the first “Mothers’ Day Work Clubs”. This was to help teach local women how to take care of their children.

The clubs unified forces in a region of the country which was divided over the Civil War and so in 1868 Jarvis organised a “Mothers’ Friendship Day” which through the gathering of mothers was a way to try and reconcile former Union and Confederate soldiers.

Then in 1908 a lady named Ann Jarvis (daughter of Anna Reeves Jarvis) from Grafton, West Virginia, wanted to honour her late mother. She pushed hard to get Mother’s Day made into a public holiday and after a lot of determination and promotion, then President Woodrow Wilsom made it an official holiday in 1914.

The USA celebrate Mother’s Day on the second Sunday in May as Anna Reeves Jarvis died on 9th May 1905.

Mother’s Day in the UK is celebrated on the fourth Sunday of Lent, which can fall anywhere between March 22 and April 25.

Ann Jarvis wanted Mother’s Day to be a celebration of families getting together and honouring their mother but it soon became apparent that the florists, card and gift shops found a way to capitalise on this occasion.

By 1920, Jarvis was disgusted with how the holiday had been commercialised and verbally denounced the acts of buying flowers, cards and chocolates as a form of honouring mothers. She even launched countless lawsuits against companies that had used the name “Mother’s Day” and tried to get the holiday removed from the public calendar, but to no avail. By the time she died in 1948 Jarvis had personally disowned the holiday.

Other early pioneers in the creation of the American Mother’s Day came from abolitionist and suffragette Julia Ward Howe.

In 1870, Howe wrote a “Mother’s Day Proclamation”, which was a call to action asking all mothers to unite in promoting world peace. Then in 1873 she campaigned for a “Mother’s Peace Day” which would be celebrated yearly on 2nd June.

Other early advocates of Mother’s Day included Juliet Calhoun Blakely, a temperance activist who promoted Mother’s Day in Albion, Michigan, in the 1870s.

Finally, Mary Towles Sasseen and Frank Hering, both worked to pioneering a Mothers’ Day in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Some even called Hering “the father of Mothers’ Day”.