Why is the Mother’s Day date different in America from the UK?

Mother's Day is celebrated on different dates around the world. (Getty Images)
Mother's Day is celebrated on different dates around the world. (Getty Images)

As Mother's Day has been and gone in the UK, you might be wondering why we're suddenly getting a second wave of mum-orientated messages.

That's because the US, as well as some other countries, celebrate the occasion in May (on 14th this year), rather than in March like us Brits.

But why is the date different in various nations and how did Mother's Day come about in the first place?

When is Mother's Day held in the UK?

In the UK Mother’s Day is always held on the fourth Sunday of the Christian festival of Lent.

The custom came about because this was traditionally when those who had moved away for work would come back and visit their ‘mother church’ and their own mothers, which is also why we often refer to it as Mothering Sunday.

As the dates of Lent vary each year, so does the date of Mothering Sunday.

As well as the UK, Ireland, Guernsey, Jersey, the Isle of Man and Nigeria all have the same date for Mother's Day.

This year it was celebrated on 19 March, while in 2024 it will be on Sunday 10 March.

Read more: How to cope if Mother's Day is difficult for you

The UK celebrates Mother's Day on the third week of Lent. (Getty Images)
The UK celebrates Mother's Day on the third week of Lent. (Getty Images)

Why is it a different date to the US?

In the US, Mother's Day is held on the second Sunday of May, which this year fell on Sunday 14 May. In 2024, it will be marked on Sunday 12 May.

The celebration does not have religious links and, according to History.com, was in fact started when an activist called Anna Jarvis held a service in May 1908 to honour the sacrifices individual mothers made for their children.

"Jarvis then began writing letters to newspapers and politicians pushing for the adoption of Mother’s Day as an official holiday," the site reveals.

Watch: Hunt helps make Mother's Day cards with nursery children

The idea took off and many other churches and areas started celebrating the day with her campaign paying off in 1914, when President Woodrow Wilson signed a bill officially establishing the second Sunday in May as Mother’s Day.

Interestingly, however, despite originally establishing the day, Jarvis is believed to have started disapproving of the subsequent commercialisation of the occasion, which she felt went against its sentimental origins.

She even said she regretted starting it and at one point, sought to abolish it.

Read more: I haven't spoken to my cruel mother for 10 years

When do other countries celebrate the day?

Many other countries celebrate Mother's Day at different times of the year.

Australia, Denmark, Finland, Italy, Switzerland, Turkey and Belgium all use the second Sunday in May as the date for celebrating mothers.

But in Mexico, and many parts of Latin America, Mother's Day is celebrated on 10 May each year, with Mexicans marking it via the "Día de las Madres" every year.

In the Middle East, the celebration first started in Egypt in 1956. It is now celebrated on the first day of spring.

Meanwhile in Thailand, Mother’s Day is always celebrated in August on the birthday of the current queen, Sirikit.

The US celebrates Mother's Day in May. (Getty Images)
The US celebrates Mother's Day in May. (Getty Images)

Read more: Best Mother’s Day gifts 2023, from hampers to unique experiences

Mother's Day by numbers

According to the British Retail Consortium, around £45 million is spent on Mother’s Day Cards with around 30 million cards sent, and around £55 million is spent on chocolates, with around four million people buying a box for their mum.

Around £260 million is also spent on flowers for the mother figure in your life, with experts from the Flowers & Plants Association, claiming Mother's Day is the biggest event in the UK's cut flower and indoor plant industry.

Around the time of the celebration in the UK sales of cut flowers and indoor plants increase by an average of 40% on a normal day's trading.

As well as flowers and chocolates, £1.8 billion is spent on personal service gifts for mums including spas and manicures. Luckily, all our spending for the occasion is already out of the way this year...