Mother’s Day, or Mothering Sunday, as it is sometimes known, falls on Sunday, May 14. Unlike Father’s Day (June 18, 2017), Mother’s Day is celebrated on a different date in the U.K. It is always on the fourth Sunday of Lent, which was March 26 this year.

The Cayman Islands recognizes the U.S. date with special brunches, spa packages and a host of greeting cards to be found in local shops. It is also one of the most popular days of the year for sending flowers, often rivaling Valentine’s Day for number of orders.

If you’re planning to celebrate your mother this year, booking a brunch or ordering your flowers well in advance is highly recommended.


History of Mother’s Day

It all began in the U.S. with Anna Jarvis, a social activist who pushed for the government to recognize mothers with a special day. Often regarded as the “Mother of Mother’s Day,” Jarvis held a memorial for her mother at St. Andrew’s Methodist Church in Grafton, West Virginia in 1908 – considered the first year of the modern holiday.

Although the U.S. Congress originally rejected the proposal to make it an official day, by 1911 all U.S. states observed the holiday.

In 1914, Woodrow Wilson signed a proclamation designating Mother’s Day, held on the second Sunday in May, as a national holiday to honor mothers.

Mothering Sunday, as it is called in the U.K., began when a vicar’s daughter, Constance Smith, saw a 1913 newspaper article about Jarvis’s campaign, and was inspired to do the same.

Ms. Smith founded the Mothering Sunday Movement and even wrote a booklet “The Revival of Mothering Sunday” in 1920.

By 1938, Mothering Sunday had become popular with Boy Scouts, Girl Guides and various parishes across Britain marking the day and communities adopting the imported traditions of American and Canadian soldiers during the war.

By the 1950s it was being celebrated throughout Britain and businesses realized the commercial opportunities.


International celebrations

The French celebrate Mother’s Day on the last Sunday in May, where a family dinner is the norm, and traditionally the mother being honored is presented with a cake that looks like a bouquet of flowers.

In Brazil, Mother’s Day is one of the most commercial holidays celebrated, second only to Christmas. Brazil commemorates this special day on the second Sunday in May with special children’s performances and church gatherings, which often culminate in large, multi-generational barbecues.

The Japanese celebrate mothers on the second Sunday in May, symbolized by beautiful carnations which represent the gentle strength of mothers who are revered in Japanese culture.

Another country which relies heavily on the giving of carnations and other flowers is Australia, where Mother’s Day is also celebrated on the second Sunday in May. Chrysanthemums are also a very popular floral choice, because mothers there are called Mum. Aunts and grandmothers are also acknowledged with gifts.

Mother’s Day is celebrated at the end of the fall rainy season in Ethiopia, as part of the three-day Antrosht festival, dedicated to moms. When the weather clears up and the skies empty of rain, family members come home to celebrate with a large feast. Daughters traditionally bring vegetables, butter, spices and cheese, while the sons bring meat of various types, including lamb or bull. These will be included in a traditional hash recipe. Singing and dancing is shared by all family members.

Another country which needs three days to fully acknowledge their mothers and the spirit of family is Serbia, where Mother’s Day takes place in December and is part of a series of holidays including Children’s Day and Father’s Day. All three holidays take place on consecutive Sundays and require lots of rope.

On Children’s Day, children are tied up and must agree to behave before they are unbound. On Mother’s Day, it is the mom’s turn to be tied up, where she will remain until she supplies yummy treats and small gifts to her children. Finally, it is father’s turn. The dads are tied up with rope until they give their families Christmas gifts.

At that point, everybody feasts.

In culturally diverse India, a westernized version of Mother’s Day is celebrated on the second Sunday in May, when Indians reflect upon the importance of mothers in their lives and the sacrifices they have made.

However, Hindus in India celebrate the goddess Durga, or Divine Mother, during a 10-day festival called Durga Puja in October. Durga Puja celebrates the triumph of good over evil and is earmarked by gifts given to friends and family, as well as feasts and celebrations.