Mothering Sunday

March 25, 2009 Updated: October 1, 2015
Epoch Times Photo

Most mothers on Mother’s Day receive a card in the post and maybe a potted plant or bouquet of flowers if they’re lucky.

Mother’s Day, or Mothering Sunday as it is traditionally known, is a Christian festivity that dates back to the 16th century. This was the day when people would visit their “mother church” the nearest big church, often a cathedral to which they were said to have gone “a-mothering”.

Domestic staff, young girls and boys only had one day off a year to visit their families, and it was on this day that they returned home with a small gift of eggs, a cake they had been allowed to bake or some wild flowers they gathered from the meadow on the walk home.

Mothering Sunday is a moveable feast as it always falls on a different day, sometimes a different month. But it is always on the fourth Sunday in Lent (Lent runs from Ash Wednesday to the day before Easter Sunday). Traditional flowers associated with Mothering Sunday are violets with snowdrops which are associated with Easter.

Mothering Sunday’s other names include “Refreshment Sunday”, so called because the celebration broke the relative austerity of Lent. The baking of Simnel cakes on this day with the 11 marzipan balls to represent the 11 apostles minus Judas who betrayed Christ, gave rise to the name of “Simnel Sunday”.

“Rose Sunday” is an old-fashioned name that originates from the tradition of posies of flowers being given to female members of the congregation and church ministers wearing rose-coloured robes to replace the purple robes of Lent.

In remembering our Christian heritage, many fond memories are associated with Mothering Sunday. Some people also prefer the traditional name of Mothering Sunday as opposed to the modern Mother’s Day, which is celebrated in the US as well as other countries around the world.