Mothering Sunday: Where it all Began

Mothering Sunday (or Mother's Day) is a chance for people everywhere to spoil their mum with cards, flowers, chocolates and other gifts to say "thank you" for their love and kindness. The special day is celebrated in many parts of the world and falls on Sunday 11th March in the UK this year.

The history of Mothering Sunday dates back to ancient Greek and Roman times, when festivals were held in honour of the mother goddesses, Rhea and Cybele. In ancient Greece, an annual spring festival was held, when Rhea (the mother of many deities in Greek mythology) was honoured.

In ancient Rome, the spring festival was known as Hilaria and was held in honour of the mother goddess, Cybele, beginning in around 250 BC.

Church and a statue of Mother Goddess Rhea

However, Mother's Day as we know it today has its roots in the Christian church and is celebrated on the 4th Sunday in Lent in honour of motherhood and maternal bonds. Children of all ages buy cards and gifts for their mothers, including adults with elderly mums.

The Mother's Day celebration in the UK is completely separate from the American festival. In the UK, Mothering Sunday dates back to the 16th century, when a religious tradition began for people to return to their "mother church" to worship. They were said to have "gone a-mothering". It was considered very important for people to return to their mother church once a year, so in the middle of Lent, they would attend the main church or cathedral in the area where they were born.

Over the years, it turned into a day when children - mainly daughters - who were working in domestic service were permitted to take a day off to visit their mother. The children, who would have had little money, would often take a bunch of wild flowers to give to their mother. The tradition evolved into not only giving flowers, but also cards and other gifts.

In the UK, Constance Smith, a High Anglican, was behind a major revival of Mothering Sunday in 1913. She campaigned for the Church of England to officially recognise a “day in praise of mothers” in the church's liturgy.

A traditional food item baked on Mothering Sunday is Simnel cake. The fruit cake contains layers of almond paste and is decorated with 11 marzipan balls on top to represent 11 of Jesus' 12 disciples. Judas isn't included after he betrayed the lord.

In the United States, Mother's Day wasn't recognised until 1914. It was a result of a campaign by social activist Anna Marie Jarvis of West Virginia. She had been campaigning for a special day for mothers since 1908. Her idea had formed following the death of her own mother, Ann, on 9th May 1905.

The late Ann Jarvis had been friends with fellow activist Julia Ward Howe, who had suggested in 1870 that a Mother's Day should be recognised across the world as a basis for mums everywhere to work together for peace.

The suggestion came as a result of the Franco-Prussian War in Europe, soon after the American Civil War, when thousands of people had suffered and many mothers had lost their sons. The women wanted mothers to unite for peace.

As a result, Ann Jarvis and Julia Ward Howe launched Mothers' Day Work Clubs - later to be renamed Mothers' Friendship Clubs - in West Virginia in the late 19th century. Members of the clubs were asked to make a pledge that their friendship and goodwill would never fall victim to any conflict between the states.

Ann Jarvis said she hoped and prayed that someone would found a memorial day to commemorate mothers' "matchless service to humanity" in every walk of life.

Anna Marie Jarvis pressed for her late mother's campaign for peace and goodwill among women to be honoured with an annual event, and hence Mother's Day began in the US in 1914 on the second Sunday in May.

Today, Mothering Sunday is celebrated in many countries across Europe and throughout the world - the date varies from country to country. The British celebration is traditionally known as Mothering Sunday, while the US version is called Mother's Day.

A recent survey revealed more than 30% of Brits believed their mother was the most important person in their life, so it should come as no surprise that we send more than 30 million "Happy Mother’s Day" cards on the special day!

Mother's Day is one of the busiest times of the year for retailers, especially for those selling greetings cards. KAS Shopfittings stocks a wide variety of high-quality shop fittings, including card racks, to enhance your retail premises.

We also supply slatwall, shop counters, shelving systems, chrome shelving and other display equipment to suit every different style of premises.

Contact us for further information on our products - available for nationwide delivery.

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