The origin of Mothering Sunday
I have been delving into a little research into the origins of Mother’s Day celebrations and the term Mothering Sunday as we understand them here in the UK. Although both are used to describe the day we show appreciation to our mums, each term is derived from totally different meanings and times.
Although opinions differ somewhat on the actual origins of Mothering Sunday it is a celebration that always falls on the fourth Sunday in Lent in the UK and Ireland. Another name that was used in the past for this day was “Refreshment Sunday” because it was a day when the fasting rules, connected with Lent, could be relaxed and people could indulge in a celebratory meal with their families.
It is thought to have begun as a day to pay respects to Mother Mary, the Virgin Mary.
Some believe it was adapted from the celebrations of the early Romans for their mother goddess Cybele. It became a time for families to return to their “Mother” church once a year, the church of their home town. Because many children at this time were employed along way from home as domestic servants etc., this was a day when they were allowed to visit their families. It became traditional for the children to arrive home with a gift, very often a posy of flowers or special cakes. The simnel cake is especially associated with Mothering Sunday and you may still hear the term Simnel Sunday mentioned. The festival gradually came to mean a celebratory day for all mothers, the occasion we are familiar with today.
The term Mother’s Day can be traced back to the ancient Greeks who held a celebration in spring to their Mother of Gods and Goddesses known as Rhea.