Mother’s Day celebration is a chance for families to show their appreciation for their mothers. It is a day to honour mothers and motherhood. But the celebration is arguably the most confusing celebration in the world, especially in Nigeria. The confusion is not about the subject of the celebration, but the actual date of the celebration.
Starting from today, March 31, 2019, various Mother’s Days will begin to pop up. Today, you would see many paying tribute to their beloved mums. Some date later in April, we would see yet another Mother’s Day celebration. As a matter of fact, there were some Mother’s Day celebration last month, February. The confusion even grows when Catholics and Anglicans celebrate Mother’s Day on separate days.
So, when is Mother’s Day. When is the authentic or official Mother’s Day?
The truth of the matter is that different places and countries celebrate Mother’s Day on different dates. So, your Mother’s Day celebration may be dependent on which part of the world you reside or associate with.
It is also important to note that Mother’s Day, which mostly falls on a Sunday, in some countries, has its roots in the traditional Catholic and Anglican Church where it is preferably referred to as Mothering Sunday. The Mother’s Day of a country may however conflict with the religion of some people in that country, as it is in China where politicians and scholars in mainland China are calling for a Chinese Mother’s Day, but Catholics claim they already have one which they cherish — the Our Lady of China feast. Politicians and scholars have called for a Chinese Mother’s Day to be introduced on the birthday of the ancient Chinese philosopher Mencius (Meng Zi), whose mother is regarded an exemplary female figure in Chinese culture.
Mother’s Day dates also vary every year because it is related to the celebration of Easter Sunday which also varies because it is dependent on the Lunar Calendar.
In some countries, Mother’s Day is celebrated every fourth Sunday of Lent, and incidentally, March 31, 2019 is the fourth Sunday of Lent this year. Last year, it was March 18.
In the UK, Mother’s Day is today, March 31, 2019 In the United States and many other countries, Mother’s Day 2019 will be celebrated on Sunday, May 12.
Origin of Mother’s Day
The first modern Mother’s Day was celebrated in the United States by Ann Reeves Jarvis and her mum’s groups in 1912, during the American Civil War.
Jarvis, who was leader of mum’s movement, campaigned for a May date in memory of her own mum – who had died that month.
President Woodrow Wilson formalised the Second Sunday in May date in 1914 in a presidential declaration. But Jarvis later criticised the commercialisation that took over Mother’s Day because by 1920, the celebration had birthed a new industry for greeting card companies, gift shops, flower companies and fundraisers who worked with the American War Mothers. Jarvis regretted that the original sentiment of love and family had been sacrificed for profit. Many other countries have since adopted America’s Second Sunday in May date.
Traditional celebrations of mothers and motherhood that have existed throughout the world over thousands of years included Hilaria, a Roman festival and the Greek cult to Cybele, an Anatolian Mother goddess. In some countries, Mother’s Day is still synonymous with these older traditions.
Mothers Day in Christianity
The Christian Mothering Sunday celebration was originally a commemoration of Mother Church, and had nothing to do with mothers at all. In the UK, it was originally a day off for domestic servants to go to their hometown and worship in their local church, with their families. On their way home, these servants, who were mostly youth, would pick wild flowers to place in the church – or give to their mums.
The day has evolved into an occasion for people to honour and give presents to their caring, loving and hardworking mothers. It has lost a lot of its connections to the church.
In the Catholic Church, the day is strongly associated with revering the Virgin Mary, who is an epitome of perfect motherhood and patron saint of mothers. The church, which holds its traditions tight, always tries to separate its Mothering Sunday from the modern Mother’s Day. It usually chooses the first Sunday in May, a month devoted to the Virgin Mary.
Anglicans do the same but follow its traditions rooted in the Church of England which celebrates Mothering Sunday according to the UK dates.
Countries celebrating Mothers Day today, March 31 include:
UK, Nigeria, Ireland, Isle of Man, Jersey and Guernsey.
Below are countries that will celebrate Mothers Day on May 12
Anguilla, Aruba, Australia, Austria, Bahamas
Bangladesh, Barbados, Belgium, Belize, Bermuda
Bonaire, Brazil, Canada, Chile, China, Colombia
Croatia, Cuba, Curaasao, Czech Republic, Ecuador
Estonia, Finland, Germany, Greece, Grenada
Honduras, Hong Kong, Iceland, India, Italy, Jamaica
Japan, Latvia, Malaysia, Malta, New Zealand, Peru
Philippines, Puerto Rico, Singapore, Slovakia, South Africa
Suriname, Switzerland, Taiwan, The Netherlands, Trinidad and Tobago
Turkey, United States, Uruguay, Venezuela, Zimbabwe
Some other countries celebrate theirs with International Women’s Day. They include Russia, Bulgaria, Serbia, Afghanistan, Romania and others.
Mother’s Day in Nigeria
Mother’s Day is unofficial in Nigeria because the government does not have any recognition for it unlike other countries where governments have made official declaration on it. Religious multiplicity is at the heart of the situation. Islam has nothing on Mother’s Day even though it preaches honour for mothers. So, if a Christian president made a Mother’s Day declaration, it may be misinterpreted as a Christian declaration.
Many groups and corporate bodies in Nigeria have however adopted the UK date. But because of the strong influence of US products on the country, many still join to celebrate later in May. Facebook, an American company, has become the strongest influence on Nigerians. Many wake up to Facebook notification of Mother’s Day and join in the celebration.