History of Mother’s Day

Greeks and Romans held festivals for the mother goddesses Rhea and Cybele

The tradition of celebrating mothers and motherhood can be traced back to the Ancient Greeks and Romans, who held festivals in honour of the mother goddesses Rhea and Cybele.

Greeks and Romans held festivals for the mother goddesses Rhea and Cybele Mother's Day

However, the clearest modern precedent for Mother’s Day is the early Christian festival known as “Mothering Sunday.” At dawn, People would make offerings of honey cakes, drinks, and flowers.

The latest and more moderate version of Mother’s Day, however, can be dated back to the Christian festival ‘Mothering Sunday’, which was first held in the UK. The traditional festival was organized on the fourth Sunday of Lent, and during this time, the Virgin Mary, also known as the Mother of Christ, was celebrated.

Over time, the Mothering Sunday tradition shifted into a more secular holiday, and children would present their mothers with flowers and other tokens of appreciation. This custom eventually faded in popularity before merging with American Mother’s Day in the 1930s and 1940s.


How is the date of Mother’s Day decided?

In the US the date of Mother’s Day is decided by following the same date as the original US Mother’s Day ‒ May 12, 1907.

Since, in the UK, Mother’s Day is always on a Sunday, the US followed the same idea, so to ensure Mother’s Day is always on a Sunday, it’s held every second Sunday of May.

For the UK Mothering Sunday, the date is decided by the dates of Easter, which are ‘set’ by the lunar calendar.


How many Mother’s Days are there?

There are (at the time of writing) over 30 different dates that Mother’s Day is held each year in different cultures and different countries:

  • Second Sunday of February: Norway (next Mother’s Day is Sunday, February 11, 2024).
  • March 3: Georgia (next Mother’s Day is Sunday, March 3, 2024).
  • March 8: Albania, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Burundi, Burkina Faso, Kazakhstan, Kosovo, Laos, Moldova, Montenegro, North Macedonia, Russia, Serbia, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan, Vietnam (next Mother’s Day is Friday, March 8, 2024 ‒ the same day as International Women’s Day).
  • Fourth Sunday of Lent: Guernsey, Ireland, Isle of Man, Jersey, Nigeria, United Kingdom (next Mother’s Day is Sunday, March 10, 2024).
  • March 21: Bahrain, Comoros, Djibouti, Egypt, Iraq, Jordan, Kuwait, Libya, Lebanon, Mauritania, Oman, Palestine, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, United Arab Emirates, Yemen (next Mother’s Day is Thursday, March 21, 2024 ‒ the same day as the Spring equinox).
  • March 25: Slovenia (next Mother’s Day is Monday, March 25, 2024).
  • April 7: Armenia (next Mother’s Day is Sunday, April 7, 2024 ‒ also known as Motherhood and Beauty Day).
  • First Sunday of May: Angola, Cape Verde, Hungary, Lithuania, Mozambique, Romania, Portugal, São Tomé and Príncipe, Spain (next Mother’s Day is Sunday, May 5, 2024).
  • May 8: South Korea (next Mother’s Day is Wednesday, May 8, 2024 ‒ also known as Parents’ Day).
  • Second Sunday of May: Anguilla, Antigua and Barbuda, Aruba, Australia, Austria, Bahamas, Bangladesh, Barbados, Belgium, Belize, Benin, Bermuda, Bhutan, Bonaire, Botswana, Brazil, Brunei, Canada, Cambodia, Cayman Islands, Central African Republic, Chad, Chile, China, Colombia, Congo, Dem. Rep., Congo, Rep., Cote d’Ivoire, Croatia, Cuba, Curaçao, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Dominica, Ecuador, Equatorial Guinea, Estonia, Ethiopia, Faroe Islands, Fiji, Finland, Gabon, Gambia, Germany, Ghana, Greece, Greenland, Grenada, Guyana, Honduras, Iceland, India, Italy, Jamaica, Japan, Kenya, Latvia, Liberia, Liechtenstein, Macau, Malaysia, Malta, Myanmar, Namibia, Netherlands, New Zealand, Pakistan, Papua New Guinea, Peru, Philippines, Puerto Rico, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Saint Lucia, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Samoa, Singapore, Sint Maarten, Slovakia, South Africa, Sri Lanka, Suriname, Switzerland, Taiwan, Tanzania, Tonga, Trinidad and Tobago, Turkey, Uganda, Ukraine, United States, Uruguay, Vietnam, Venezuela, Zambia, Zimbabwe (next Mother’s Day is Sunday, May 12, 2024).
  • May 10: El Salvador, Guatemala, Mexico (next Mother’s Day is Friday, May 10, 2024).
  • May 15: Paraguay (next Mother’s Day is Wednesday, May 15, 2024 ‒ the same day as Día de la Patria).
  • May 21: Kyrgyzstan (next Mother’s Day is Tuesday, May 21, 2024).
  • May 26: Poland (next Mother’s Day is Sunday, May 26, 2024).
  • May 27: Bolivia (next Mother’s Day is Monday, May 27, 2024).
  • Last Sunday of May: Algeria, Cameroon, Dominican Republic, France, French Antilles, Haiti, Madagascar, Mali, Mauritius, Morocco, Niger, Senegal, Sweden, Tunisia (next Mother’s Day is Sunday, May 26, 2024).
  • May 30: Nicaragua (next Mother’s Day is Thursday, May 30, 2024).
  • June 1: Mongolia (next Mother’s Day is Saturday, June 1, 2024 ‒ the same as Children’s Day).
  • Second Sunday of June: Luxembourg (next Mother’s Day is Sunday, June 16, 2024).
  • June 14: Afghanistan (next Mother’s Day is Friday, June 14, 2024).
  • First Monday of July: South Sudan (next Mother’s Day is Monday, July 1, 2024).
  • August 12: Thailand (next Mother’s Day is Monday, August 12, 2024).
  • August 15: Antwerp, Costa Rica (next Mother’s Day is Thursday, August 15, 2024).
  • October 14: Belarus (next Mother’s Day is Monday, October 14, 2024).
  • October 15: Malawi (next Mother’s Day is Tuesday, October 15, 2024).
  • Third Sunday of October: Argentina (next Mother’s Day is Sunday, October 20, 2024, also known as Día de la Madre).
  • November 3: Timor Leste (next Mother’s Day is Sunday, November 3, 2024).
  • November 11: North Korea (next Mother’s Day is Monday, November 11, 2024).
  • Last Sunday of November: Russia (next Mother’s Day is Sunday, November 24, 2024).
  • December 8: Panama (next Mother’s Day is Sunday, December 8, 2024).
  • December 22: Indonesia (next Mother’s Day is Sunday, December 22, 2024).

Why are there 2 Mother’s Days?

There are actually more than two Mother’s Days around the world, but the two that we might be more familiar with are the US and UK Mother’s Days.

There are two different dates for Mother’s Day in the US and UK because they both have different origins.

It’s not known exactly when or why Mothering Sunday in the UK first began, but it can be traced back to the Middle Ages, linked to the Christian tradition of Lent.





Nikos Ad
GCT Team

This article was researched and written by a GCT team member.

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