Before you go: “how many Mother’s Day are there in a year?”, how about you start with – “when is Mother’s Day celebrated?”

On the topic of it being observed more than once, some persons are quick to say “too much” while others say “not enough”, what do you say?

I say the bigger question should be: when is Mother’s Day celebrated, and why are there different dates for it?

Before we dive right into the 10 amumzing facts you should know about, let’s talk a bit about when Mother’s Day is celebrated.

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When is Mother’s Day Celebrated?

This day has always been celebrated in different forms and varying degrees throughout history. In Greece, they celebrated the goddess Rhea in honour of the gift of motherhood.

Historians often credit the spring celebrations held in honour of Rhea as an ancient form of Mother’s Day – Rhea was the “mother of gods”.

But these days, the concept of Mother’s Day has evolved from honouring goddesses and the Virgin Mary. Mothers are now being celebrated all over the world, in over 90 countries.

When is Mother’s Day celebrated? The date depends on the country you live in. The dates differ by country but no country has two dates for it.

And now, here comes the 10 amumzing about this day?

1. Mother’s Day is usually on a Sunday

Mother’s Day is usually on a Sunday

Have you noticed that it’s always on a Sunday? Some persons are unaware that in many countries (with Nigeria being no exemption), the official day to honour and celebrate mothers always fall on a Sunday.


Because countries like UK and France historically celebrated their mothers on a Sunday (but in different months) and in this present day, a few other countries adopted these days.

The US holiday, Mother’s Day, which also falls on a Sunday is adopted by many countries. This day is linked to the fact that the founder’s mother’s memorial service held on a Sunday – plus this is often referred to as the very first Mother’s Day in the US.

2. Mothering Sunday is the official Mother’s Day in the UK

Mothering Sunday originated in the UK and it was observed as a religious day in March. There’s no fixed date for it, so the date always varies but it’s always in March and on a Sunday!

This day was historically meant to celebrate one’s mother church, but it later evolved to celebrate and honour all mothers in the UK.

This day is adopted by many other countries like Nigeria, Ireland, and Guernsey. It’s always celebrated annually on the fourth Sunday in Lent. If you’re not familiar with Lent, then keep in mind that it’s 3 weeks before Easter Sunday.

3. Constance Penswick-Smith “Revived” Mothering Sunday in the UK

Mothering Sunday was historically observed as a religious event where people went to their mother church – the mother church is usually the church where they were baptized or the main church in a region.

Penswick-Smith in 1913, inspired by the Anna Jarvis movement decided to revitalize the holiday. But this time around, as a day meant to celebrate all mothers.

However, this day has also been linked to the Virgin Mary, the mother of Jesus.

4. Bolivia’s Mother’s Day is celebrated to commemorate the heroines of Coronilla (Cochabamba)

Here’s an interesting but sad story! The heroines of Coronilla were mothers who stood up to fight for their children. The men were at war and their home was about to be attacked, and with no one left to run to, they took up the responsibility to guard their home – even in death.

The day is celebrated on May 27th each year. Historically, children are meant to bake a cream cake for their mothers on this day.

5. Mothering Sunday and the US Mother’s Day are the two commonest holidays

Mother’s Day in the US is observed in May. And just like Mothering Sunday from the UK, the day has been widely adopted by other countries all over the world.

It also doesn’t have a fixed date, it’s observed on the second Sunday of May, every year.

pink carnations

6. Anna Jarvis founded Mother’s Day in America, and in 1914, it was declared an official holiday

Before Anna Jarvis’s mother (Ann Jarvis) died, she had wanted a day where mothers would be honoured. Though she didn’t get to see the day, her daughter, Anna, carried on with her mother’s wish.

She pushed on till the day was finally made an official holiday in 1914. Also, the tradition of using carnations on that day was initiated by her as well. Red carnations symbolize that one’s mother is alive while white carnation symbolizes that the mother had passed on.

7. Anna Jarvis Fought against the commercialization of the holiday

Now known as a hallmark holiday due to its commercialization, Anna Jarvis fought to remind people of the true essence of the holiday. To her, it was one born of sentiments, a day meant to honour mothers, not a day meant to cash in on some huge profits.

Her advice: Rather than spend money on gifts like jewellery, she wished it were just flowers and a letter!

PS: Anna Jarvis never married and died without any child. She wasn’t a mother, never made a profit out of the holiday, yet she fought for it. However, she was so disenchanted with the holiday that she tried to have it annulled in 1943.

8. Fête des Mères – Mother’s Day in France wasn’t always for every mother

love - the element of mother's day

In France, the emperor dedicated a day to honour mothers of large families, especially those who had lost their husband at war. Get why, huh?

It was 1806 and with the breadwinner of a large household gone, life could easily get difficult. However, the day evolved to accommodate all French mothers – not just those who were widows of large families.

It’s celebrated on the last Sunday in May but sometimes, it’s also celebrated on the first Sunday of June!

9. Is Mother’s Day or Mothering Sunday a public holiday?

In many countries like Canada, it’s not a public or official holiday although the day is officially recognized by the government. The fact that it falls on a Sunday doesn’t seem to help much in this as well.

In Nigeria, the official day recognized by the government is Mothering Sunday, however, it’s not a public holiday.

But in countries like Finland (second Sunday in May), it’s a public holiday and recognized as one.

Quick one: This day is different from International Women’s Day which is celebrated on the 8th day of March every year. Some countries like Albania celebrate mothers on this day as well – talk about killing two birds with one stone!

10. Greeting cards are the commonest type of gifts on this holiday

While mothers get luxurious gifts like jewellery, perfumes, spa treatment, clothes or shoes, millions of greeting cards are sold all over the world on that day.

What do you think is the perfect gift for your mum? Or what do you think is the perfect gift as a mum?

Some FAQs on Mother’s Day

Is Mother’s Day biblical?

The bible does advocate that mothers be honoured but the holiday doesn’t stem from the bible per se. But a fine reason why this question gets asked is that Mothering Sunday was originally a religious holiday meant to honour one’s church, not one’s mother.

In modern times, it’s almost always synonymous with a day meant to celebrate mothers, and what can be wrong with that?

What’s the difference between Mother’s Day and Mothering Sunday?

Just in case it wasn’t clear enough earlier, Mothering Sunday originated in the UK as a religious event and Mother’s Day came from the US.

Yes, it’s not terrible to refer to Mothering Sunday as Mother’s Day – tons of people are guilty of this!

How often is Mother’s Day? Is it celebrated twice a year?

How often is it? As often as once a year. It’s an annual event that’s held once a year and it’s not celebrated twice.

But if your country does happen to celebrate it twice, then it means the date in another country has been hijacked.

In Nigeria, for example, the primary date adopted is that of Mothering Sunday but people often celebrate with Americans in May as well. Oh yeah, some also make International Women’s Day another day to celebrate their mothers.

Final words

When is Mother’s Day celebrated in Nigeria? On the fourth Sunday in Lent which is 3 weeks before Easter Sunday.

Although it’s heavily commercialized, this day is truly a beautiful holiday. As a hallmark holiday, its only true competitor is Christmas.

Do mothers deserve to be celebrated every day? That’s entirely up to you. It’s called Mother’s Day not mothers’ day for a reason – it’s your mother and the media shouldn’t dictate how you should celebrate her.

If all your mother want is a handwritten note, then do just that rather than buy her a jewellery set; vice versa. Do not let the commercialization overwhelm or pressure you.

Naga Odigie

When I'm not obsessing about the wonders and dynamics of the human brain, I'm a secondary caregiver and a biomedical scientist roaming the city of Benin.