Mother’s Day/Muttertag

Today is the fourth Sunday in Lent and so it is Mother’s Day or Mothering Sunday in Britain. I wasn’t aware of that, nor that in Germany and American Mother’s Day is on 8 May (and 29 May in France). I was surprised it was different from the USA, because my mother wouldn’t have it celebrated and said it was an American invention designed to increase sales of flowers and chocolates. It seems I was misled – the holiday was devised by an Appalachian ‘homemaker’ to improve health conditions in the home by addressing mothers.

Various sources fill in more: Wikipedia, the BBC and About.

It seems that Mothering Sunday may have been a day when British people were given a day off to go home to their mother churches. They would take presents for their mothers with them. It fell into disuse and was only really revised under American influence after WWII. About German Language reports:

During the First World War, Switzerland was one the first European countries to introduce Mother’s Day (in 1917). Germany’s first Muttertag observance took place in 1922, Austria’s in 1926 (or 1924, depending on the source). Muttertag was first declared an official German holiday in 1933 (the second Sunday in May) and took on a special significance as part of the Nazi motherhood cult under the Hitler regime. There was even a medal—das Mutterkreuz—in bronze, silver, and gold (eight or more Kinder!), awarded to mothers who produced children for the Vaterland. … After World War II the German holiday became a more unofficial one that took on the cards-and-flowers elements of the U.S. Mother’s Day. In Germany, if Mother’s Day happens to fall on Pfingstsonntag (Pentecost), the holiday is moved to the first Sunday in May.

This doesn’t mention that in East Germany, Mother’s Day coincided with International Women’s Day on 8 March.

2 thoughts on “Mother’s Day/Muttertag

  1. Mothering Sunday wasn’t commercialised when I was a kid: daffodils were handed to childrens in church for maternal onhandning, and childrens also got to do (more) chores etc.

    No chocklits to speak of, nor cards.

  2. Maybe there was a non-commercialized spell in between, then. My mother can’t have said this before 1933 (I am what the Germans call das Nesthäkchen and my mother used to call an afterthought), but I can remember in the 1950s and early 1960s certainly an expectation of chocolates being bought, or my mother wouldn’t have said that. I even remember a card, got by my brother, which must have been American. It began ‘M is for the million things you gave me’ and at the end of the verse it concluded ‘Put them all together – they spell MOTER’ (with the H missing). But perhaps I kid myself and it was a birthday card for your mother. Anyway, my memories of ‘No Mother’s Day for me, thank you, but chocolates any time’.
    We didn’t go to church, in fact we were atheists because my mother didn’t like Presbyterian Sunday School before WWI.

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