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Mothering Sunday

Mothering Sunday - UK


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Welcome to the Mothering-Sunday™ UK website

Mums-Day™ USA website here

When is Mother's Day in the UK?

When is Mothering Sunday?

  • Mothers Day 2011:  Sunday April 03 2011
  • Mothers Day 2012:  Sunday March 18 2012
  • Mothers Day 2013:  Sunday March 10 2013
  • Mothers Day 2014:  Sunday March 30 2014
  • Mothers Day 2015:  Sunday March 15 2015

Mothering Sunday is the fourth Sunday of Lent. Often called "Mothers Day" it has no connection with the American festival of that name which is celebrated in May.

Fourth Sunday in Lent

During the seventeenth century, England celebrated a day called "Mothering Sunday", celebrated on the fourth Sunday of Lent (also known as Mid-Lent Sunday). "Mothering Sunday" honoured the mothers of England. As Christianity spread throughout Europe the celebration changed to honour the "Mother Church" , the spiritual power that gave them life and protected them from harm.

Over time the church festival blended with the Mothering Sunday celebration . People began honouring their mothers as well as the church. During this time many of the England's poor worked as servants for the wealthy.

Traditionally, Mothering Sunday was a day when children, mainly daughters, who had gone to work as domestic servants were given a day off to visit their mother and family.

Today Mothering Sunday is a day when children give flowers  and cards to their mothers

Two special days for mothers!

In the USA, Mother's Day takes place at the beginning of May each year.  In the UK, Mothering Sunday is not a fixed day because it is always the middle Sunday in Lent (half way between Shrove Tuesday and Good Friday.

Some would take a cake and tradition has it that it was often a Simnel Cake.

Another name for Mothering Sunday was Refreshment Sunday when because delicacies given up for the rest of Lent,
could be enjoyed!

So who came up with the idea of honouring mothers nation-wide on the second Sunday in May?

Early Mother's Day Celebrations

Some historians claim that the predecessor of the Mother's Day holiday was the ancient spring festival dedicated to mother goddesses.  In the ancient Greek empire the spring festival honoured Rhea, wife of Cronus and mother of the gods and goddesses.  In Rome the most significant Mother's Day-like festival was dedicated to the worship of Cybele, another mother goddess.  Ceremonies in her honour began some 250 years before Christ was born.  This Roman religious celebration, known as Hilaria, lasted for three days - from March 15 to 18!

Mothering Sunday

More like the modern celebration of Mother's Day is England's "Mothering Sunday", also called Mid-Lent Sunday  observed on the fourth Sunday in Lent. Some say the ceremonies in honour of Cybele were adopted by the early church to venerate the Mother of Christ, Mary. Others believe the Mother Church was substituted for mother goddess and custom began to dictate that a person visit the church of his/her baptism on this day. People attended the mother church of their parish, laden with offerings.

Also in England in the 1600's, young men and women who were apprentices or servants returned home on Mothering Sunday  bringing to their mothers small gifts like trinkets or a "mothering cake". Sometimes furmety was served - wheat grains boiled in sweet milk, sugared and spiced.

In northern England and in Scotland, the preferred refreshments were carlings - pancakes made of steeped pease fried in butter, with pepper and salt. In fact, in some locations this day was called Carling Sunday.

Another kind of mothering cake was the simnel cake, a very rich fruit cake. The Lenten fast dictated that the simnel cake had to keep until Easter. It was boiled in water, then baked, and was often finished with an almond icing. Sometimes the crust was of flour and water, collared with saffron.

Mother's Day - USA

Anna M. Jarvis (1864-1948) is credited with originating America's Mother's Day holiday. She never married and was extremely attached to her mother, Mrs Anna Reese Jarvis.

Anna Reese Jarvis died in Philadelphia in May 1905. Still unmarried and left alone with her blind sister Elsinore, Anna missed her mother greatly. Two years after her mother's death (1907) Anna Jarvis and her friends began a letter-writing campaign to gain the support of influential ministers, businessmen and congressmen in declaring a national Mother's Day holiday.  She felt children often neglected to appreciate their mother enough while the mother was still alive and hoped that Mother's Day would increase respect for parents and strengthen family bonds.

The First Mother's Day

The first Mother's Day observance was a church service honouring Mrs. Anna Reese Jarvis on May 10, 1908.

Carnations, her mother's favourite flowers, were supplied at that first service by Miss Jarvis. White carnations were chosen because they represented the sweetness, purity and endurance of mother love.  Red carnations, in time, became the symbol of a living mother. White carnations signify that one's mother has died.

Other Mother's Days

The first Mother's Day proclamation was issued by the governor of West Virginia in 1910.  Oklahoma celebrated Mother's Day that year as well.  By 1911 every state had its own observances.  By then other areas celebrating Mother's Day included Mexico, Canada, China, Japan, South America and Africa. The Mother's Day International Association was incorporated on December 12, 1912, with the purpose of furthering meaningful observations of Mother's Day.

Official Proclamation

The House of Representatives in May 1913, unanimously adopted a resolution requesting the President, his Cabinet, members of Congress, and all officials of the federal government to wear a white carnation on Mother's Day. Congress passed another Joint Resolution May 8, 1914, designating the second Sunday in May as Mother's Day. The US flag is to be displayed on government buildings and at people's homes "as a public expression of our love and reverence for the mothers of our country."

President Woodrow Wilson issued the first proclamation making Mother's Day an official national holiday.

In the church calendar, Mothering Sunday or Mid-Lent Sunday as it is also known, commemorates the banquet given by Joseph to his brethren.

Nowadays gifts are still given to the mothers but in other respects, Mothering Sunday is little different from the secular Mother's Day, which in the United States, Australia and many other countries, :  the second Sunday of May.

A special cake, called the mothering cake, was often brought along to provide a festive touch.  Sometimes furmety was served - wheat grains boiled in sweet milk, sugared and spiced.  In northern England and Scotland, the preferred refreshments were carlings.  Carlings are pancakes made of steeped peas fried in butter, with pepper and salt. In in some locations this day was called Carling Sunday.

 

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