Mother’s Day 2021: how Anna Jarvis’ campaign led to the global celebration of mums


Smith was left inspired by a newspaper article in 1913, detailing Jarvis’ campaign in America, and as a result published “The Revival of Mothering Sunday” in 1920.

Smith, along with Ellen Porter, a colleague from the Girls’ Friendly Society lodge, also led a movement to promote Mothering Sunday, publishing information about the UK traditions and Christian origin. 

By the time of Smith’s death, Mothering Sunday was said to be recognised across the whole British Empire.

How to celebrate Mother’s Day 2021

Unfortunately, large family celebrations will not be possible again this Mother’s Day, as some Covid-19 lockdown restrictions are set to remain in place for the coming weeks.

On February 22, the Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced a roadmap for easing lockdown in England, and confirmed that non-essential shops, pubs and restaurants will remain closed until April 12. People will also be advised to ‘stay at home’ in all but exceptional circumstances until March 29, and indoor socialising will be banned until May 17.

However, there are still plenty of ways to mark the occasion this year. From March 8, the outdoor exercising rules will change, allowing people in England to meet one-on-one outside in public spaces for socialising. This means that mums and children who live apart could enjoy a coffee or picnic together in the park on Mother’s Day.

From March 8, care home residents will also be allowed a single regular visitor. If your mother lives in a care home, this means that you can visit in person and hold hands. But, hugging will not be permitted and visitors will need to obtain a negative Covid-19 test beforehand and wear protective equipment. 

Those who live apart from their mothers can still set up a video call via Zoom, FaceTime or Skype, or send flowers, gifts and cards in the post.

If you live with your mother or have formed a support bubble with them, you could also show how much you appreciate them by cooking a special meal or ordering their favourite takeaway.

Read more: How to celebrate Mother’s Day 2021 during the Covid-19 pandemic

The official flower of Mother’s Day

Blooming beautiful bouquets make a significant appearance around Mother’s Day, with children commonly presenting colourful bunches to their mums. But, what flowers should you give your motherly figures on March 14?

If you’re looking for bouquet inspiration, carnations are a good place to start, as they are a well-known symbol of Mother’s Day. In fact, Anna Jarvis distributed white carnations, her mother’s favourite flowers, during the first Mother’s Day memorial service in 1908, making them a popular choice ever since.

Legend has it that carnations were closely linked to a mother’s love before the American celebration too, with pink carnations supposedly sprouting from Virgin Mary’s tears over the death of Jesus.

Mother’s Day gifts and presents

Bumper boxes of chocolates and colourful bunches of flowers are traditionally presented to our maternal figures on Mother’s Day.

But, the increasing commercialisation of the day has meant retailers now compete to offer the best gifts and consumers search shops to find the perfect treats for their mums. 

Global Data, estimated that Mother’s Day spending in the UK increased to £1.6 billion in 2019, despite the event falling slightly later than the previous year.

However, Global Data found that 25.4 per cent of consumers spent less on Mother’s Day purchases in 2020, as economic uncertainties grew as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic, and fewer people were able to see their mothers due to the government issuing stay-at-home guidance.

Refreshment Sunday

During Lent, people who follow the Christian message often refrain from eating sweet foods, rich foods and meat as a reflection of Jesus’s sacrifice in the Judean desert.

But, fasting rules were relaxed on Mothering Sunday, which takes place during the fasting period, allowing people to enjoy treats and special meals with their families. This led to the day earning the name, Refreshment Sunday.

As the abstinence of certain foods was lifted, people often prepared Simnel cakes to enjoy with their families and mothers – a fruit cake made with two layers of almond paste and covered in a layer of marzipan. Traditionally, it is decorated with 11 balls of marzipan, representing the 11 disciples, and finished with sugar violets.

The name “Simnel” is thought to have come from the Latin word simila, which is a wheat flour used for baking cakes.

The poet Robert Herrick linked Mother’s Day to “Simnel” as early as the 17th century, when he wrote:

I’ll to thee a Simnel bring,Gainst thou go’st a Mothering

One legend says a man called Simon and his wife Nell disagreed whether their Mothering Sunday cake should be baked or boiled. They decided to do both, and consequently the cake was named “Sim-Nell”, in honour of them.

The perfect Simnel cake recipe

If you’re planning to present your mum with a homemade treat this year, Paul Hollywood’s Simnel cake recipe is a delicious choice.

This classic fruit cake, packed with glace cherries, currants and apricot jam, and completed with a gentle zest of lemon and orange, will no doubt leave your mum delighted this Mother’s Day.

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