Mothering Sunday

Simnel-Cake

Wiki says, about this time period:

The Feast of the Annunciation, contemporarily the Solemnity of the Annunciation, commemorates the visit of the angel Gabriel to the Virgin Mary, during which he informed her that she would be the mother of Jesus Christ, the Son of God. It is celebrated on 25 March each year.

That was pretty well it until the Protestants made the Mothering Sunday idea. For those born on the planet Zog:

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 (For Orthodox Christians in Europe and elsewhere, the fourth Sunday in Lent remembers St. John of the Ladder (St. John Climacus)). Secularly, it became an occasion for honouring the mothers of children and giving them presents.[1] It is increasingly being called Mother’s Day, although that has always been a secular event quite different from the original Mothering Sunday.[1] In the UK and the Republic of Ireland, Mothering Sunday is celebrated in the same way as Mother’s Day is celebrated elsewhere.

During the sixteenth century, people returned to their mother church, the main church or cathedral of the area, for a service to be held on Laetare Sunday. This was either the church where you were baptised, or the local parish church, or more often the nearest cathedral.[1] Anyone who did this was commonly said to have gone “a-mothering”, although whether this term preceded the observance of Mothering Sunday is unclear. In later times, Mothering Sunday became a day when domestic servants were given a day off to visit their mother church, usually with their own mothers and other family members. It was often the only time that whole families could gather together, since on other days they were prevented by conflicting working hours, and servants were not given free days on other occasions.[2]

Children and young people who were “in service” (as household servants) were given a day off on that date so they could visit their families (or, originally, return to their “mother” church). The children would pick wild flowers along the way to place in the church or give to their mothers. Eventually, the religious tradition evolved into the Mothering Sunday secular tradition of giving gifts to mothers.[1]

By the 1920s the custom of keeping Mothering Sunday had tended to lapse in Ireland and in continental Europe.[3] In 1914, inspired by Anna Jarvis‘s efforts in the United States, Constance Penswick-Smith created the Mothering Sunday Movement,[4] and in 1921 she wrote a book asking for the revival of the festival; Constance was the daughter of the vicar of Coddington, Nottinghamshire, and there is a memorial in Coddington’s church.[5][6] Its widescale revival was through the influence of American and Canadian soldiers serving abroad during World War II; the traditions of Mothering Sunday, still practised by the Church of England and Church of Ireland were merged with the newly imported traditions and celebrated in the wider Catholic and secular society.[3][7][8] UK-based merchants saw the commercial opportunity in the holiday and relentlessly promoted it in the UK; by the 1950s, it was celebrated across all the UK.[7]

Other pre-Christian references:

Lady Day fell on the vernal equinox. In Roman Times, this was symbolically equated with the mythical resurrection ofAttis.

Consequently, the Romans celebrated the feast of Hilaria, at this time of year, dedicated to the mother goddessCybele. In remembrance of the mythical death of Attis, Hilaria was preceded by approximately two weeks of fasting, like Mothering Sunday (in the form of the first half of Lent).

As for the eats on the day:

  • Simnel cake is a traditional confection associated with both Mothering Sunday and Easter.[12]:page 2

  • Around 1600, when the celebration was only held in England and Scotland, a different kind of pastry was preferred.

    • In England, “Mothering Buns” or “Mothering Sunday Buns” were made to celebrate. These sweet buns are topped with pink or white icing and the multi-coloured sprinkles known as “hundreds and thousands” in the UK. They are not widely made or served today.

    • In Northern England and Scotland some preferred “Carlings”, pancakes made of steeped peas fried in butter.[13]

Men and women

Clearly, women have scooped the pool here, having both a Mothering Sunday and an International Women’s Day. The concoction Father’s Day was an attempt to redress it but it never really took off, did it? In Russia, Vosmoy Marta is the second biggest day after New Year.

All the best to all mothers on this day today.

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2 comments for “Mothering Sunday

  1. rick
    March 6, 2016 at 9:10 am

    “All the best to all mothers on this day today.”
    “Shrubbery eh? The Knights of Ni can commission them.”
    Hmm..

  2. March 13, 2016 at 6:32 am

    I shall be baking one of these for the office!

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