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Why are there different dates for Mother’s Day depending on the country?

Many countries have an official national holiday to give thanks to mothers, but the exact date of the celebration can vary greatly around the world.

Mother’s Day celebrations vary in different countries
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This year Mother’s Day in the United States will be celebrated on Sunday, 8 May, meaning that you still have plenty of time to plan a treat for your mum. Mother’s Day is the annual day to give thanks to mothers, but the date itself varies around the world.

In the United Kingdom this year’s celebration fell on 27 March, Belarus, Bulgaria and Uzbekistan marked the day even earlier on 8 March. In Norway, the second Sunday of February is designated as Mother’s Day.

Many countries have introduced their own Mother’s Days with specific histories, customs, and dates.

When is Mother’s Day celebrated in the US?

The origins of a national Mother’s Day in the United States can be found in 1907 when Anna Jarvis wanted to mark the death of her mother, Anna Reeves Jarvis, an activist who cared who injured soldiers from both sides during the American Civil War.

In May 1908 she organised the first official Mother’s Day celebration in Grafton, West Virginia. After initial success at the local level, Jarvis set her sights on making it a national affair. She argued that American holidays were too biased towards male achievements and began a writing campaign on behalf of the cause.

By 1912 an official Mother’s Day was recognised in towns and states across the country, and in 1914 it was officially established as a federal holiday when President Woodrow Wilson signed an executive measure. Wilson’s measure declared that the second Sunday of May be a national holiday in the US.

British Mother’s Day dates back centuries

While Jarvis’ version of the holiday is now well over a century old, it is a relative newbie compared to the tradition found in the United Kingdom. Mother’s Day is part of Christian tradition, with a link to Easter celebrations.

The earliest recorded mention comes from the 16th century, when Christians would be sure to visit their ‘mother’, or primary, church on the fourth Sunday of Lent. It became known as Mothering Sunday, and gradually became a more secular tradition with children often marking the occasion by offering small gifts to their mothers.

In the 20th century the relevance of the day moved closer to the American version, and the name switched from Mothering Sunday to the more common ‘Mother’s Day’ moniker. Despite the subtle name change, the celebration in the UK is still held on the fourth Sunday of lent, the 40-day period leading up to Easter Sunday. For this reason, the date of Mother’s Day in the UK can vary greatly between years.


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