Why is mother´s day celebrated in Spain the first Sunday of May?

When I was little I never thought that Mother’s Day could be other than the first Sunday in May, it was already a day established in the regular calendar of my country. At school age we always made some crafts as a gift for our mother, maybe a painting, maybe a paper flower, maybe a basket for flowers made of clay…

And already as a teenager and later I would buy a gift much more thought for my dearest mother.

The fact is that when I started working as a tourist guide in Barcelona – some years ago – I was surprised to congratulate my foreign clients (North American, German, Austrian …) on this day, and they said that in their respective countries Mother´s day was celebrated on the second Sunday of the month not on the first.

So here I share with you some information that I found about the origin of such an special day.

The first origins of this celebration go back to Ancient Egypt, where the goddess Isis, known as ‘Great mother goddess’, among many other titles, was the object of worship and tribute with symbolic and mythological overtones by her civilization.

Something similar happened in Ancient Greece with the goddess of Greek mythology Rea, mother of the gods of Olympus; and during the Roman Empire, where the goddess Cybele, mother goddess, was worshiped in her temple with floral offerings for three days.

Catholicism in Europe began to honour the Virgin Mary, mother of Jesus of Nazareth, although it was not until December 8th 1854 that Pope Pius IX defined this celebration with the Immaculate Conception.

Already in the 20th century, US President Wilson Woodrow officially declared in 1914 that Mother’s Day would be celebrated on the second Sunday of May. Although to get to recognize this day, two important women burst onto the scene and fought for this day to be recognized in a way more similar to the current one. Their names: Julia Ward Howe and Anna Reeves Jarvis.

The latter, a housewife, launched a nationwide campaign to officially establish Mother’s Day on the second Sunday of May at the beginning of the 20th century. The success of this campaign was Woodrow’s official declaration years later and the fact that, internationally, each country was adopting this anniversary, although not on the same date.

In Spain, the Feast of the Immaculate Conception has been a celebration since 1644 and Mother’s Day was celebrated on the same day, December 8th.  It was as a result of Woodrow’s official Mother’s Day declaration that a distinction of celebrations was raised: on one hand the Immaculate Conception and on the other Mother’s Day as a celebration of motherhood.

It is in 1965 when Mother’s Day moves to the first Sunday in May, as we know it today. The fact that it is celebrated in May in many countries could be because it is the fifth month of the year and the month of the Virgin Mary, mother of God for countries with a great Christian tradition, or perhaps because it is a beautiful spring month with days long and often sunny.

In Hungary and Portugal, for example, they celebrate it as we do on the first Sunday of May, but in Germany, Italy or Turkey, for example, it is the second Sunday of the same month, and in Ireland and the United Kingdom it is the fourth Sunday of Lent. (Mothering Sunday) then Lent rises to pay homage to the woman who is a mother.

In any case, I think it was a beautiful decision to dedicate one day of the year to our mothers, for whom it has not been and it is not still easy to dedicate them to the family and their wishes for professional or personal fulfilment. A huge toast to them!!!!




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