When is Mother’s Day 2021 in the UK? Why date of Mothering Sunday is different to the US celebrations

A florists shows a small pot with a plant and the words 'Happy Mothers Day' written on it, in a flower shop in Merbes-Le-Chateau, Belgium, on May 9, 2021. - Belgium is in its eighth week of confinement. On May 10, Belgium will celebrate Mother's Day. This weekend marks the end of stage 1A of the deconfinement plan in the ongoing corona virus crisis. On May 11, all shops can reopen and more people can return to work. (Photo by VIRGINIE LEFOUR / Belga / AFP) / Belgium OUT (Photo by VIRGINIE LEFOUR/Belga/AFP via Getty Images)

When is Mother’s Day 2021 in the UK? Why date of Mothering Sunday is different to the US celebrations

Like last year, the 2021 edition of Mother’s Day is set to be a little different to usual, with the UK’s Covid restrictions again preventing most of the usual celebrations from taking place.

It’s on the celebrations that people are most anxious not to forget, but the changing date means there’s always a chance you might get caught out.

Marking the date remotely means you might need to be even more organised than usual but, to make it more complicated, the UK marks the celebration on a different date to many countries – here’s everything you need to know.

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When is Mother’s Day 2021 in the UK?

This year Mother’s Day falls on Sunday 14 March in the UK, with the date set by the celebration’s Christian foundations as Mothering Sunday.

It always takes place on the fourth Sunday in the festival of Lent, exactly three weeks before Easter Sunday.

The origins lie of the observance lie in the Middle Ages, when children who had left their families to work in domestic service were allowed to go to their home – or “mother” – church.

So initially, the “mothering” aspect of the occasion had no connection to the way mothers are celebrated today.

(Photo: AFP/Getty images)

However, the journey home inevitably became an occasion for families to reunite, with the custom developing for children to pick flowers en-route to give as a gift to their mothers.

The date took on a further celebratory air because it was traditionally an occasion for the fasting rules of Lent to be relaxed, allowing revellers a long-awaited feast.

Consequently, it also became known as Refreshment Sunday, Simnel Sunday (after the simnel cakes traditionally baked in celebration) and, most evocatively of all (and possibly only in Surrey): Pudding Pie Sunday.

Why is Mother’s Day celebrated at different times around the world?

Mother’s Day is now observed around the world, with the majority of countries taking their lead from the US practice of celebrating it on the second Sunday of May.

In 2021, this falls on 9 May, with almost 100 countries – including much of Europe, Africa and South America – following the American system.

Far fewer commemorate the fourth Sunday of Lent, although Nigeria joins the UK and Ireland in marking Mothering Sunday.

Other countries, including Russia, Vietnam and Afghanistan, commemorate mothers on International Women’s Day: 8 March.

Bolivia marks Mother’s Day on 27 May, the date of the Battle of La Coronilla, when women fighting for the country’s independence were slaughtered by the Spanish army in 1812.

Elsewhere, France – and many of its former colonies – celebrate mothers on the last Sunday of May, while Argentina marks “Dia de la Madre” on the third Sunday of October.

(Photo: Getty Images)

How did Mother’s Day become such a big deal?

Today, most people know the occasion as “Mother’s Day” rather than the traditional “Mothering Sunday”, which owes much to the American festival later in the year.

It was created in 1907 by Anna Jarvis, who held a memorial for her mother Ann Jarvis, a peace activist who treated wounded soldiers in the American Civil War.

Her daughter campaigned for a day to honour the role played by mothers following Ann’s death, and the idea gained such traction that by 1911 all US states observed the holiday.

In 1914, it had become so ubiquitous that President Woodrow Wilson declared Mother’s Day a national holiday “as a public expression of love and reverence for the mothers of our country”.

Mother’s Day rapidly became a major commercial opportunity, with Hallmark leading the way in manufacturing cards by the early 1920s.

Jarvis deeply resented the materialistic side of the holiday that she had created. The commodification of sentimental symbols like the white carnation led her to withering criticism and even to being arrested for protesting against organisations selling Mother’s Day merchandise.

While Mothering Sunday is technically a different celebration to Mother’s Day, the success of the US holiday led to a resurgence in the traditional observance after interest had waned in the early 20th century.

By the 1950s, the practices of the Christian festival had broadly merged with the commercial aspects of Mother’s Day, with the moniker gradually overtaking Mothering Sunday and the celebration becoming increasingly secular.

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