Mother’s Day is on Sunday. What is it? Should I buy anyone a gift?
There’s a running joke in my family about wanting to be suffocated to death with a pillow before you go incontinently senile. In the joke, this intergenerational euthanasia would take place on “Smothering Sunday”.
Thankfully, all my grandparents died of fairly natural causes, and both my parents are still operating acceptably, so Smothering Sunday remains just a bit of politically incorrect fun. For now.
However, this Sunday it is Mothering Sunday – which means I will be going home to visit my own mother, though with no intention whatsoever of murdering her. In fact, quite the opposite. It will probably be a lovely time with music, flowers and the roasted carcass of a slain animal for lunch on the day itself. I can’t wait.
Mother’s Day: a potted History
The history of the mother celebration is quite murky in Britain. According to Wikipedia, “Mothering Sunday should not be confused with Mother’s Day”. But it is much too late for that. We have definitely already confused the two.
This is because Mothering Sunday is apparently a Protestant and Catholic celebration that falls on the fourth Sunday of Lent. Importantly, this was not a celebration of mothers at all, but of your mother church.
This stretches all the way back to the 16th century, when people would journey back to their parishes for the celebration.
And even in pre-Christian times the people of Surrey would journey home for “Pudding Pie Sunday”, Wikipedia tells me.
But Mother’s Day is an entirely separate creation, being a 20th century capitalist marketing exercise exported from the United States.
And in Britain they are now both the same day.
So whether you are celebrating your mother, or celebrating your church, or perhaps both or all three, it’s all going to kick off this weekend. Hooray for capitalism and religion, and mothers.
A very modern Mother’s Day
Of course, the modern Mother’s Day really is about being nice to your mum.
But some people take it too far.
According to the parcel delivery company Doddle, which recorded the contents of a grand total of 303 parcels being sent on Mother’s Day 2015, apparently people living in Manchester and London spend the most amount of money on gifts for their mothers.
Here are some sentences from a press release they sent me: “Those living in Manchester and London splash out the most, with the average gift value at £66 and £64 respectively. Gifts included satnavs, ski wear, a watch and a golf bag.”
It goes on: “Southerners are almost as generous, spending around £60. Those in the south sent their mums more quirky presents including Banksy prints, a statue, a Versace jacket and a onesie.”
If I sent my mother a Banksy Print, a Versace jacket or a onesie, then she’d know I’d gone irretrievably insane and it’d be Smothering Sunday for me for sure.
But according to the deeply scientific Doddle study it gets weirder still.
They say: “The nation spends an average of £59 and can be rather creative, with the top 10 unusual gifts including:
1. a guitar
2. a wooden bird
4. an accordion
5. a fancy dress costume
6. leather snow shoes
7. loud speakers
8. an outdoor vest/onesie
9. a wig
10. kinky boots
Hmm, that is weird. But how did Doddle rate this top 10 of weird gifts? Is number 10 the weirdest? Or is number one the weirdest?
Either way, lingerie, in at number 4, can’t be a Mother’s Day gift can it? Surely someone just happened to be sent some lingerie on Mother’s Day. Surely.