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Mothering Sunday and Mothers’ Day

In the UK Mothering Sunday and Mother’s Day is coming up on Sunday 11 th March.

Mothering Sunday is a holiday celebrated by Catholic and Protestant Christians in some parts of Europe. It falls on the fourth Sunday in Lent, exactly three weeks before Easter Day . It was once observed as a day on which people would visit their "mother" church – the church in which they were baptised. In Victorian times it was a day given for servants to travel back to their home town to worship in their local church with their families. As they walked home, children would pick flowers in the hedgerow to give to their mothers and this is how the tradition of giving presents, and particularly flowers, arose.

Mothers’ Day has no real connection with the religious festival of “Mothering Sunday”.

In these secular times many people from the UK and Ireland think these two very different celebrations are the same, but that is not so. It is an easy mistake to make, as in the UK both take place on the same day.

In 1914 Woodrow Wilson, the American President, signed a proclamation designating Mothers’ Day, held on the second Sunday in May, as a national holiday in the USA to honour mothers. The USA and a lot of the rest of the world have a date in May to celebrate this.

Just to confuse us all still further, celebrations of mothers and motherhood can be traced back to the ancient Greeks and Romans, who held festivals in honour of the mother goddesses Rhea and Cybele.

Mothering Sunday or Mothers’ Day is a good day for florists as records show that a quarter of the flower and plant purchases made for holidays happen at this time!

Special foods were also part of the tradition. Simnel Cake is eaten both on Mothering Sunday and at Easter although in earlier times “Mothering Buns” were baked which were sweet buns top with pink or white icing and decorated. In the north and in Scotland “Carlings” are often eaten which are pancakes made of steeped peas fried in butter.


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