Mothering Sunday

Here in the UK it’s Mothering Sunday, or Mother’s Day to most people (much to the annoyance of my mother!).

Ours is earlier than most because it’s actually an old secular event, held on the fourth Sunday in Lent. During the sixteenth century, people would return to their mother church, which was usually the main church or cathedral for the area, and this was termed ‘a-mothering’. In later times, it became the day when domestic servants were given the day off to go to their mother church, usually with their families (including their mother); servants were not given free days on any other occasion.

Young people or children in service would pick flowers to take either to their mother or to the church. In this way, the religious tradition became a day for giving a gift to your mother.

By the 1920s the traditional had become almost obsolete, but in 1914 Constance Penswick-Smith started the Mothering Sunday Movement, inspired by Anna Jarvis in the US, and by 1921 she had written a book calling for the revival of the day. However, it wasn’t really until WWII that the influence of the Canadian and American soldiers  who were serving abroad caused a widescale revival of the tradition. The old traditions and the newly imported traditions merged to create the day we now have. Naturally, merchants saw an opportunity to make money and promoted it, and by the 1950s it was celebrated across the UK.

Mothering Sunday