Mother's Day 2016: traditions, origins and ideas for gifts

Mar 3, 2016

From the history and customs of Mothering Sunday to tips on where to find a last-minute present

Chris Hondros/Newsmakers

Mother's Day is celebrated all over the world at different times of the year. In the US, the annual celebration of "moms" takes place on the second Sunday of May, while in France the Fete des Meres falls on the last Sunday of May. In the UK, however, Mothering Sunday is held on the fourth Sunday of Lent - 6 March this year.

Where did Mother's Day come from?

The first ever movement for the recognition of motherhood arose from the groups for women whose sons had fought in the American Civil War. In 1914, President Woodrow Wilson decreed the second Sunday of May as Mother's Day. It spread to Europe in the aftermath of the First World War, when many women had lost their sons or husbands, leaving them to raise their children alone.

Most countries adopted the US timing and it still remains the most popular date for Mother's Day across the globe. The origins of the British date are a little more complicated. Some believe Mothering Sunday originally derived from a 16th-century practice of visiting the "mother church" - the main church in the region - on Laetare Sunday, the fourth Sunday of Lent. This was also when domestic servants were given time off to visit their families.

In 1920, inspired by the new US holiday, Briton Constance Smith published a booklet entitled The Revival of Mothering Sunday and by 1938, the day "was celebrated in every parish in Britain and in every country of the Empire", church historian Cordelia Moyse tells the Daily Telegraph. Today, it is more commonly known as Mother's Day now, it is still officially known as Mothering Sunday.

Mother's Day traditions

It was customary for people in Britain to cook their mothers a simnel cake – a type of light fruit cake with two layers of marzipan – on Mothering Sunday because it falls in the middle of Lent and so represents a relaxation of the fasting rules. For this reason, the day was also traditionally called Refreshment Sunday.

Simnel cakes, which are also associated with Easter, traditionally feature 11 balls of marzipan icing representing 11 of the 12 disciples (Judas is usually left out, except in extraordinarily forgiving Christian households). Today, gifts of flowers or chocolates are more usual.

Where can I get a last-minute gift?

For those on a budget, the Daily Mirror points to a number of cut-price gifts starting from just £2 for Thorntons chocolates, along with tips on where to find a great deal on the High Street.

A luxury Italian food hamper is just the ticket to impress gourmet mums, says GQ. Soho delicatessen Lina Stores offers three sizes of gift hampers, ranging from a tidy £25 to a more indulgent £100, all packed with "gastronomic goodies" sure to make mamma's day.

If you are looking to go beyond the traditional chocolates and scented candles, [4]Not on The High Street offers a range of more unique presents, such as a personalised photograph plant pot (£20) or a gin-tasting tour (£60 for two).

For a gift with a difference, a number of charities will send a special card in return for a donation. International aid group Heifer offers several to suit all budgets, allowing you to do anything from helping Haitian women start their own business to giving a family in Zanzibar a goat.

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There is one mistake here. Mother's day in Greece is on the 2nd Sunday of May not February. In Feb is Valentine's day. It's important to get your facts right before you publish.

Yes, we celebrate 8th of March as Women's Day but Mother's Day we celebrate on 26th of May. Dorota Szkopiak

Where did you research the history? Probably Wikipedia as if it had been off the back of a Kellogs cornflake box you wouldn't of made so many mistakes lol