Sunday, 18 March 2007

Mothering Sunday

Unlike Mother's Day in other countries, Mothering Sunday in the UK is a movable date – it is the fourth Sunday in Lent – but it has become synonymous with Mother’s Day in recent years.

It originated from the requirement for people to worship at their "mother church”, the church where they were baptised, at least once a year. This was naturally near their home and family and so it became associated with returning to see their mothers. The tradition, dating from the 16th century, grew for domestic servants and apprentices to be given time off work to do this. Flowers are the traditional gift because they could be gathered along the way home.

The day has in the past been known as Refreshment Sunday because the fasting during Lent could be relaxed; or Simnel Sunday after the traditional cake, very similar to Christmas cake. The names Rose Sunday or Laetare Sunday also refer to the same day. Rose Sunday is so called because it was the day popes used to bless the roses sent to Catholic sovereigns, and Laetare Sunday (Latin meaning rejoice) after the first word of the introit sung that day. A couple of years ago one of the local supermarkets gave a rose to every woman visiting that Sunday. I thought it was very pleasant but it must have cost a fortune because it was a once off, in the days before Sunday shopping became popular.

France celebrates la Fête des Mères on the last Sunday in May, but it is the second Sunday in May in most other countries. Looking at the different dates that it is celebrated around the world, it would be interesting to know why the differences arose. I do know that some celebrate on International Women’s Day, 8 March but there are a good many others.

I have done my duty and bought a gift for my mother, along with a posy of flowers. I didn’t find enough flowers in the garden and had to buy some but they are a proper posy, not a florist’s bunch.

My sons are in France normally and they often miss Mother’s Day completely or end up marking it twice. This year though, number 2 son is in England for the weekend so for the first time in ages I will see one of them on the day. How good is that!


  1. Thanks for sharing your knowledge regarding Mothers Day. I am fascinated by your deep knowledge, and said at once to Anna:
    - listen, I've learned something new!

    Mother's Day (Mors dag) in Norway is second Sunday in Feb. Since decades it's just been commercial. Sad. But a fact.

    May you have a week unxplored

  2. I'm afraid it's largely commercialised in the UK too, but the churches and some schools do try at least to remind us of the older traditions.


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