Posted by: madkentdragon | March 31, 2011

Mothering Sunday

Mothering Sunday, contrary to the advertisers hype is a religious holiday and always falls on the fourth Sunday in Lent, but even that may not be the beginning of it.

You see in March there was a Roman pagan festival called Hilaria in honour of the mother goddess Cybele. As the Romans converted to Christianity, the celebration of the mother transferred to the “new religion” and was used to celebrate the mother church and the Virgin Mary.

During the 16th Century, it was normal for people to go to their mother church (cathedral) for this special day and also meet up with families from further afield and celebrate by breaking the Lenten fast and having a celebratory meal. The fast back then was not, “giving something up for Lent” – but a basic diet with no sugars and no meat! It was also the time when the youngsters in service were allowed to return home for the day to attend this service and therefore meet up with their families.

Usually the girls would be allowed to bake a cake to take home with them – this would be a luxury for the normal family and from this the simnel cake was born. This cake is a fruit cake which has a layer of almond paste in the middle of the cake and another over the top and finished off with eleven balls of marzipan, representing the eleven disciples and if available sugared violets would be added. This was the original Mothering Sunday present; often the youngsters would pick a bunch of wild daffodils or other flowers as they walked home.

The day is still celebrated in churches throughout Britain and although the wider population call it mother’s day and rush out and buy, chocs, flowers or pot plants with a suitable card, the children going to Sunday School or to the morning service and come out with a Mothering Sunday card or a little posy of violets to take home to their mums.

I can remember, as a little girl going to the family afternoon service held on Mothering Sunday at All Saints, Loose and queuing up to collect my little posy and walking down the aisle to present them to my mother in the church where she sat with the other parents. If she didn’t come to the service, I would take them home a bit squashed and wilting in my sticky hand to give to her.

My sons, when attending Sunday School would also come home with a gift, a card each in the shape of a posy of violets instead of the actual flowers, and so the tradition continued, I hope it does today and the Church does not just rely on the commercialisation of the day.

Even the simnel cake can be bought! But no matter how you celebrate it, just remember to say “Thank You” to your Mum, and remember her on this Mothering Sunday.

Incidentally the New Testament reading for the day was the Feeding of the Five Thousand, so perhaps that was another reason to break the fast!



  1. Pat I absolutely love your informative, entertaining and insightful posts. I am sorry I haven’t commented earlier. I can almost visualise you with your sticky little hand out stretched with posy to your gorgeous Mum!

    Absolutely let’s say a massive thank you to our Mum’s! x

  2. I’m sure that the ‘thank you’ and spending time together is so much more important than the buying of any gift. I hadn’t appreciated the history behind the event until your post. Thank you so much for sharing x

  3. Hi Pat

    Fab blog as always, quite informative as I admit I had NO idea where it came from!!!

    I also prefer not to go with the commercialism and enjoy a handmade card from my little girl and just lots of cuddles.


  4. Have tweeted an identical comment to Trish Dever & India Knight – that it’s Mothering Sunday, the violets , such a humble beautiful gift. Pity it’s such a commercial scrum now but still, it’s great that mums are appreciated!

    • Thank you, let’s leave the commercialism for other days, simple gifts like violets etc should mean more to a mum than the bling of the modern world.

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