Mother’s Day – the what and when

Spring is here, and so Mother’s Day or Mothering Sunday has got to be close.

Each year it is a different date, depending on where in the calendar Easter falls.  Mothering Sunday is the fourth Sunday in Lent, which in 2021 is 14th March.

So, if the date of Mothering Sunday is dependent on Lent and Easter, is it a Christian or religious celebration?

Interestingly, it has a Christian background.  Back in the 16th century most people attended church every Sunday, they tended to visit their local or ‘daughter’ church and on the fourth Sunday of lent, they would attend a celebration at their ‘mother’ church, which would have been their childhood church or the cathedral or main church in their locality.

This pilgrimage became a popular holiday when domestic staff were given the day off to go home to their respective ‘mother’ church for the day.

This, however, isn’t really reflective of our modern-day Mothering Sunday or Mother’s Day.  This is because the popularity of the celebration was waning at the start of the 20th century.

Around this time a lady named Constance Penswick-Smith made it her mission to reignite the British appreciation of Mothering Sunday.  She worked hard and eventually rekindled the nation’s love of celebrating the day, but with much more of a focus on celebrating motherhood.

This celebration of motherhood comes from the American ‘Mother’s Day’ tradition.  In 1908 Anna Jarvis called for a celebration of her own mother who was a militant peace activist.  This led to her creating a formal ‘Mother’s Day’ which was to be a celebration of all American Mothers, as a thank you to the mothers groups which had been created during the American Civil War.

In 1914 President Wilson formalised the arrangement and all serving personnel were encouraged to celebrate or give thanks for their mothers and the modern day ‘Mother’s Day’ was created.

Modern day Mother’s Day

Now fast forward to the 21st Century (in non-COVID times) and in the UK many people may go to church to celebrate theirs and other mothers.  It is certainly a day when the uniformed groups such as the Brownies, Cubs, Guides and Scouts attend church in recognition.  However, most families celebrate with gifts and material expressions of their love.

For some the commercialisation of Mother’s Day or Mothering Sunday has overtaken its real meaning. 

This year, with COVID restrictions still in place, many of the traditions of going out to celebrate, spending time with our mothers and being able to purchase lavish, or not so lavish gifts from actual shops will not be possible.  Most Mother’s Day gifts will come from online retailers or the few essential shops still open.

This is the year of the virtual/socially distanced/locked-down Mother’s Day so here at Your Employee Wellbeing we’ve had a think about some gifts we’d like to receive or think our mothers would appreciate this year.  These include:

In person!

We have Boris Johnson to thank for giving us the opportunity to spend time with our mothers on Mother’s Day.  From March 8th two people can sit outside together in a public space.  So, if you live locally, you can pop out for a walk, grab a cuppa and have a good old natter.  For some this may be the first opportunity you’ve had to meet in person.  Mothers of many may need a rota and we all need to hope for good weather!


They maybe a little more expensive at this time of year, but we all love a bouquet.  However, why not give a living gift which will last a little bit longer?  Flowering spring bulbs, an oriental orchid or perhaps a tree or shrub for the garden?

Garden Centres are deemed as essential retail, so pop along and see what looks good for your mum. 

If you are looking for an online option there are many new and innovative ways of sending plants via the post and companies which design bouquets to fit through the letterbox.

Afternoon tea

Does your mum love an afternoon tea?  We do to0.  Fortunately, if you look online there are many small businesses who will create and deliver an afternoon tea for Mother’s Day.  They can be very simple or more lavish with gin or champagne.

Gift membership

Does the mother in your life enjoy a good walk, have a passion for history, gardens or the movies?  Why not consider giving her the gift of a membership to the National Trust or the RHS?  Gardens and open spaces are open to limited visitors with historic buildings opening again later in the spring.

Opening later (possibly May 17) will be museums and art galleries look into an Artpass for the culture vulture or the cinema for film buffs.  It’s a great gift which keeps on giving all year long and in these times will support the arts and entertainment sector which is really struggling.


Most people love chocolate, so why not indulge in some treat chocolates?  We aren’t talking a bar of dairy milk or bag of buttons we are talking Lindt, Hotel Chocolat and Godiva here.

Again, have a look online.  There are great options for subscriptions to chocolate clubs where the recipient receives different chocolates through the year!


You can buy vouchers for just about anything these days, so think about an experience, such as fast car driving, hot air balloon ride or a cookery course.  Failing that, a voucher to their favourite shop so they can spoil themselves is always a winner. 

Again a winner during lockdown as many retailers will send you an e-voucher which you can forward on, or will send the voucher direct. 

Smells and scents

Choosing a scent online is probably more tricky online than it would be browsing the toiletry department at your local shops.  However, there are lots of small businesses in the UK which make delicious sounding bath bombs and wax melts. 

A warm scented bath with fragranced candles would be a real treat for any mother on Mother’s Day, neither need to be expensive, but the time given to indulge would be very welcomed.

Something personal

This is a favourite with the team here at Your Employee Wellbeing!

Normally, we’d suggest taking the kids to a local ceramic café and letting them loose on a mug or plate especially for mummy or grandma.  These precious gifts with fingerprints and smears and smudges made with love will remain firm favourites in the kitchen cupboard.

However, in 2021 you may need to get creative!  Etsy, home to lots of creative sellers is awash with DIY craft kits which you can make, decorate and finish at home or send away to be fired or finished.  The thought process will be longer this year but could be more personal.

You can also create personalised jewellery.  Think necklaces and earrings with fingerprints or pendants featuring your child’s artwork.

Finally, good old Zoom!

Finally, good old Zoom!

Many of us are suffering ‘zoom fatigue’ – but put that to one side for today.

Don’t just call for a chat on Mother’s Day why not deliver an activity for a grandparent to do with your children.  They can chat and get creative together.  The same goes for our idea of an afternoon tea delivery.  Send one to your mother and order one for your family and then get together virtually to indulge together.


2020/21 has seen mothers stressed out with juggling work, home schooling and home life.  They probably have not had the time to rest, relax and recharge their batteries.  The everyday tasks may have gone un-noticed or valued as they try to keep everyone happy.

Perhaps, while our suggestions are great, this Mother’s Day we should all go back to basics.  Make the phone call to your mother; in your house, get the kids to make cards and gifts, but above all, give her a lie-in and a cup of coffee or tea in bed when she wakes up and make her feel loved, cherished and valued.  But not just on Mothering Sunday, all year.

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We do this through our bespoke programmes for larger businesses and through our new service PC Employee Care for smaller businesses with up to 100 employees.

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