Saturday, 10 March 2018

Happy Mother's Day

Nowadays, Mother's Day is associated with cards, flowers, chocolates and, if you're as lucky as me, breakfast in bed :) The day is a celebration of mothers and an opportunity to show our thanks for all they do for us.

How did it all begin?
Nobody is really sure when the celebration of Mother's Day began but in the British Isles, Mothering Sunday has taken place on the fourth Sunday in Lent for centuries. Lent is a time observed by many Christians as a preparation for the mysteries of Easter. It lasts from Ash Wednesday (the day after Pancake Day/Shrove Tuesday) to Easter Sunday. Many Christians observe Lent by fasting and/or taking part in special study groups.

Originally, Mothering Sunday was a time when Christians returned to their mother church where they had been baptised. Most people would attend their local parish church for weekly Sunday services, but on Mothering Sunday it was traditional to make a pilgrimage to the mother church, which might be the cathedral or the main church in the area.
Bradford Cathedral
It was often an occasion for family reunions. Children as young as ten often left home to go into service or become apprentices. They weren't often given holidays and so rarely saw their families. However, servants and apprentices were given the day off work to travel to their mother church and as they walked along the lanes, they picked wild flowers to give to their own mothers. And so, it is thought, the tradition of giving flowers on Mothering Sunday began.
Daffodils by Annie Spratt
The Anglican church has set readings for the different Sundays of the year and the Epistle for the fourth Sunday in Lent speaks of Jerusalem as the Mother of us all, whilst the Gospel reading for the day is the feeding of the 5,000. Hence the name Refreshment Sunday, a day on which the fasting rules of Lent are relaxed and Simnel Cake is sometimes served. Although, the cake has a much closer association with Easter  these days. Other names for the day are Laetares (rejoice) Sunday and Rose Sunday.

How did it become the celebration we know today?Well, by the early 20th century, Mothering Sunday traditions were becoming less and less important in England, much to the dismay of Constance Penwick-Smith, a vicar's daughter from Nottinghamshire. She was inspired by the establishment of the officially recognised American Mother's Day celebrated in May, which had been brought about by the campaigning of Anna Jarvis after the death of her own mother in 1905. 

Constance wrote a book called The Revival of Mothering Sunday in 1920. Along with her friend Ellen Porter, she established a Mothering Sunday movement and revived the special traditions of the day in the UK and across the British Empire. The revived Mothering Sunday celebrations focussed more on motherhood than the mother church and was encouraged by the Girl Guide and Boy Scout movements. Constance aimed to take the observance of Mothering Sunday beyond the confines of the Anglican church and she obviously succeeded as the day is now celebrated widely, within both the religious community and secular society alike.

Happy Exploring!