This Sunday we celebrate Mother’s Day in the UK: that day of the year on which mothers are particularly honoured by their children. In North America and South Africa it is the second Sunday in May; in Britain it has become another term for Mothering Sunday.
According to A Dictionary of English Folklore as cited in Oxford Reference Online (available free through many libraries in the UK), Mother’s Day as we know it was created almost single-handedly by Anna Jarvis of Philadelphia who persuaded Congress, in 1913, that the second Sunday in May should be dedicated to honouring mothers and motherhood.
The concept was brought to Britain by American soldiers during the Second World War, and was later taken up by commercial interests, becoming extremely popular from the 1950s onwards. In Britain, however, the day chosen for Mother’s Day was the fourth Sunday in Lent, previously the traditional day for Mothering Sunday, which Mother’s Day in effect replaced.
On the modern Mother’s Day, children (and husbands, significant others, partners etc.) send cards, chocolates, flowers, and so on, to their mothers and the mothers of their children, and many families make the mother breakfast in bed, or take over the housework for the day.
A selection of words containing ‘mother’ in Oxford Dictionaries Online
mother country, mothercraft, Mother Earth, mother figure, mother goddess, mother hen, mother house, Mother Hubbard, Mothering Sunday, mother-in-law, mother-in-law’s tongue, motherland, mother lode, motherly, Mother Nature, Mother of God, mother-of-pearl, mother of thousands, Mother’s Day, mother’s help, mother ship, Mother Shipton, mother’s milk, mother’s ruin, Mother Superior, mother-to-be, mother tongue, mother wit, motherwort
The opinions and other information contained in the Oxford Dictionaries Online blog posts do not necessarily reflect the opinions or positions of OUP.
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