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Mother’s Day gifts and their meaning

Mama mia – it’s time to show the mothers in our lives just how much they mean to us. But finding the perfect Mother’s Day gift isn’t always easy.

This guide should help, but first, let’s learn more about the history of the day. 

Then we take a look at the meanings behind some of the more popular and traditional Mother’s Day gifts in the UK, USA and beyond, so if you’re completely stuck for ideas, that should give you a jumping-off point.

History of Mother’s Day gifting

Nobody knows quite how far back celebrations of motherhood go, but we do know that honoring mothers with gifts has been important to many cultures for millennia. At least as far back as the ancient Greeks, Romans and Egyptians, festivals were held for mother goddesses.

The origins of most modern Mother’s Days, however, are more recent – but they’re also hugely varied. Some came about for religious reasons, others for political ones, while others have simply evolved from older traditions. In most cases, though, the point is to give thanks to mothers.

History of Mothering Sunday in the UK

Surprisingly, in the UK, the original British concept of Mothering Sunday had nothing to do with mothers at all, despite the name. 

It began in the 16th century as a religious event, and the ‘mother’ in question was the ‘mother church’, which could either mean the largest church in your region or the one you were baptised at.

Known as Mothering Sunday, but now more commonly called Mother’s Day in the UK, it always falls on the fourth Sunday of Lent – typically mid-March. Families would all attend a service together at their mother church. 

Because it might have been months since adult children had seen their parents, they would sometimes bring gifts with them, such as homemade foods, including simnel cake. As the holiday falls in early spring, when flowers start to appear in the British countryside, it’s thought that they would pick wildflowers on their walk to the service to give to their mother. 

History of Mother’s Day in the USA

The American concept of Mother’s Day came about much later in 1868, shortly after the end of the US Civil War. The original idea, by abolitionist and suffragette Julia Ward Howe, was for mothers to unite to promote peace and harmony in a nation still suffering from bitter post-war anger. 

Later, various people campaigned for a Mother’s Day to honor the sacrifices mothers made for their country and their children, and the US Mother’s Day was finally added to the official national calendar of events by President Woodrow Wilson. 

As the holiday had no connection to Lent or any other religious festival, Wilson decided it would take place on the second Sunday every May – the first one being the day after he signed the declaration on Saturday, May 9, 1914.

When is Mother’s Day?

Mom, mum, mama, maman, ma – it’s not just the nicknames we give our mothers that vary. It’s also the date we celebrate them. 

Here’s a snapshot of some of the annual Mother’s Day dates around the world: 

  • Australia – second Sunday in May

  • Canada – second Sunday in May

  • Egypt – March 21

  • France – last Sunday in May

  • Germany – second Sunday in May, but occasionally, the first Sunday

  • Hong Kong – second Sunday in May

  • Indonesia – December 22

  • Ireland – fourth Sunday of Lent (in March)

  • Italy – second Sunday in May

  • Mexico – May 10

  • Russia – March 8

  • South Korea – May 8

  • Spain – first Sunday in May

  • Thailand – August 12

  • UAE – March 21

  • UK – fourth Sunday of Lent (in March)

  • USA – second Sunday in May

  • Vietnam – March 8

Traditions for Mother’s Day gifting

While the history and date of Mother’s Day might vary, a few traditional Mother’s Day gift themes are found in most cultures – flowers, foods and keepsakes.

For flowers, you could pick them yourself, buy a bouquet from a florist, or give your mother a blooming plant. A modern variation on this would be products filled with floral scents, such as perfumes, lotions, candles, bath salts and soaps.

Homemade foods will always warm a mother’s heart, but if you’re not a great chef, then you might prefer to buy it. Choose chocolates, cookies, and other sugary goodies for mothers who have a sweet tooth, while teas, nuts, and cheeses will delight moms who prefer savoury snacks.

Keepsakes should be personal, so think about what the mother in your life likes and what she means to you. If you’re artistic or crafty, then you might be able to make something beautiful yourself, but if not, then a photo frame or canvas with pictures of you and her together would make a wonderful gift.

Meanings behind Mother’s Day flowers

Flowers are the classic Mother’s Day gift, but which one should you choose? Unless the mother in your life suffers from hayfever, she’ll probably love it no matter what.

But if your mom has a favorite and it’s in season, then you can’t go wrong with that. Simply choose a beautiful bouquet that features her preferred bloom. 

If you’d like to choose flowers that have some meaning behind them, here’s a list of what some of the more popular Mother’s Day flowers are said to convey:

  • Bluebells – kindness

  • Carnations – motherly love and remembrance

  • Chrysanthemum – honesty and integrity

  • Daffodil – hope and positivity 

  • Dahlia – dignity and elegance

  • Gladiolus – integrity and strength

  • Hyacinths – sport and playfulness

  • Iris – wisdom and respect

  • Lilies – white for purity; pink for prosperity; red for passion; orange for price and yellow for gratitude

  • Magnolia – natural world and femininity

  • Roses – pink for grace and gentles; white for remembrance or new beginnings; yellow for friendship and caring; orange for energy and passion; red for romantic love

  • Tulip – unconditional love

  • Violets – loyalty and devotion

Meaning of Gifts from Husband, Daughter, Son

Depending on whether the mother in your life is your wife, girlfriend, grandmother, step-mother, daughter, sister, cousin, friend, aunt, the woman who gave birth to you, raised you, or another woman, it will probably affect which gift is most suitable. But it will also depend on your budget. 

Red roses or lilies, sleepwear, perfumes and couples’ photos make great gifts from romantic partners. Marshmallows, carnations and a postcard with a picture of a treasured holiday moment would be perfect for a younger child to give. And for friends and other family members, a bouquet, chocolates or photo frame with pictures of you together will definitely delight her.

Whatever you choose, don’t forget a card to tell the mother in your life just how much she means to you.

Send a gift with TouchNote For Mother’s Day

The one thing you can be sure every mother will love is a card with meaningful words or memories of your time together. 

Give a Mother’s Day card she’ll treasure forever by creating a photo card with TouchNote, or choosing from our readymade selection, including artsy, floral and funny Mother’s Day cards – and remember that we will post them for your card for you anywhere in the world, free of charge. 

If the mother in your life lives in the USA  or UK, you’ll also find a selection of brilliant Mother’s Day gifts that can be sent straight her door if you can’t see her on the day, or to your home for you to take in person. Choose from chocolates, cookies and biscuits, teas, bathroom favorites and dozens of other carefully selected Mother’s Day gift ideas.

And remember – Mother’s Day might only happen once a year, but the mothers in our lives do their best for us all the time. A kind word, phone call, surprise treat or heartfelt note will be appreciated by them, any day of the year.

TouchNote / March 2022
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