Mother’s Day is a confusing celebration: it falls on different days every year, and varies depending on what country you’re in.
The majority of countries mark Mothering Sunday on the US date. For this reason, it can be particularly confusing and tough to keep on top of.
When is Mother’s Day 2023 in the UK?
Mother’s Day 2023 falls on 19 March in the UK, with the date set by the celebration’s Christian foundations as Mothering Sunday.
When is Mother’s Day in the US?
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 2023, this falls on 14 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.
What are the origins of Mother’s Day in the UK?
The origins lie of Mothering Sunday 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.
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.