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Why we celebrate Mothering Sunday

What’s the history behind Mother’s Day in the UK

Mothering Sunday is a holiday in the Catholic and Protestant Christians calendar celebrated in the UK, Ireland and other parts of the world, especially Canada and Australia. It is a religious holiday and is connected to the Easter calendar and therefore it moves date every year. 

Why does the date of Mothering Sunday change every year?

Mothering Sunday is always on the fourth Sunday in Lent and therefore exactly 3 weeks before Easter Day. Easter changes its date every year in connection with the cycle of the Moon. Unlike other Christian holidays, Easter moves its date every year.  In 325AD it was established that Easter would be held on the first Sunday after the first full moon occurring on or after the vernal equinox. But if the full moon falls on a Sunday, Easter is then delayed by a week making sure it still falls after Passover. This means Easter can fall anywhere within a 35 day window between March 22 and April 25. And so as Easter moves so does Mothering Sunday.

Isn’t Mother’s Day really called Mothering Sunday?

Contrary to popular belief it wasn’t originally connected to your Mother. The terms comes from workers being given the day off to go and worship in their ‘Mother church’ on Laetare Sunday. A persons Mother Church was usually their family parish, or where they were baptised. Anyone attending the service was deemed to have done ‘a mothering’.  You would therefore often attend church with your family, including your Mother. Children would often pick flowers on their way to church due to the time of the year, spring flowers after the long harsh winters and give them to their mothers, hence why flowers are such a traditional gift on Mother’s Day.

Why is it now called Mother’s Day in the UK

It is now more commonly known as Mother’s Day in the UK but this is an American holiday where it is celebrated in a similar way in the USA as it is in the UK but on a different date in May.

Mother’s Day in the USA and the rest of the world is an annual holiday and is always celebrated on the second Sunday in May. It was set up to recognise Mothers, and all maternal bonds, focussing on the contributions they make to our society in general. It was initially devised by Anna Jarvis, with the first official Mother's Day celebrated at St. Andrew's Methodist Church in West Virginia on May 10 1908. As it is an annual holiday it is unlike the UK and Irelands Mothering Sunday and more similar to Father’s Day, Siblings Day and Grandparents Day.

Although we all tend to call it Mother’s Day now, due influences from the USA, there are always calls to return the name of the day back to it’s original Mothering Sunday as it’s common name, especially due to it’s different historical context and also because it is celebrated on a very different day in the year.

But whether you prefer Mother’s Day or Mothering Sunday we all agree it is the one day in the year where we can all celebrate our Mother’s, what they do and/or did for us, and not just when growing up. As flowers are a traditional gift on Mothering Sunday we at Wentworth Wooden Puzzles always make sure colourful flowers are always represented on our Mother’s Day jigsaw puzzle to keep the tradition of young children picking flowers for their mothers on their way to church. Flowers are also heavily themed for our specially shaped jigsaw puzzle pieces.

Mothers Day shapwed wooden jigsaw puzzle