Today, most people know the occasion as “Mother’s Day” rather than the traditional “Mothering Sunday”.
This owes much to the American festival of Mother’s Day, which is held later in the year and has no religious connotations.
It was created in 1907 by Anna Jarvis, who held a memorial for her mother Ann Jarvis, a peace activist who treated wounded soldiers in the American Civil War.
Her daughter campaigned for a day to honour the role played by mothers following Ann’s death, and the idea gained such traction that by 1911 all US states observed the holiday.
In 1914, it had become so ubiquitous that President Woodrow Wilson declared Mother’s Day a national holiday “as a public expression of love and reverence for the mothers of our country”.
Mother’s Day rapidly became a major commercial opportunity, with Hallmark leading the way in manufacturing cards by the early 1920s.
_*Jarvis deeply resented the materialistic side of the holiday that she had created. The commodification of sentimental symbols like the white carnation led her to withering criticism and even to being arrested for protesting against organisations selling Mother’s Day merchandise.*_
While Mothering Sunday is technically a different celebration to Mother’s Day, the success of the US holiday led to a resurgence in the traditional observance after interest had waned in the early 20th century.
By the 1950s, the practices of the Christian festival had broadly merged with the commercial aspects of Mother’s Day, with the moniker gradually overtaking Mothering Sunday and the celebration becoming increasingly secular.