This year, Mothering Sunday falls on March 19 in the United Kingdom, and we are excited to celebrate the best individuals in the world — mothers! Mothering Sunday has been observed as a day of worship during the Christian fasting season of Lent since the 16th century. Incorporating the day as Mother’s Day is a relatively recent development, but we seize every opportunity to honor our mothers.
The background of Mothering Sunday in the U.K.
Originally, Mothering Sunday was a celebration of mother congregations in the United Kingdom, Ireland, and other countries. Its origins can be traced back to the Middle Ages, and it is typically celebrated annually on the fourth Sunday of Lent, the period during which Christians observe their annual fast. On the Sunday in the midst of the fasting period, Christians from every corner of the country would travel to their mother churches to worship; that is, the church where they had received the sacrament of baptism, the principal church or cathedral of the area. The journey came to be known as “going-a-mothering.”
In the 16th century, the tradition continued and acquired popularity in the United Kingdom, becoming a holiday celebration. Domestic servants and novices across the nation who had been separated from their families for an extended period of time would be granted a day off to make a pilgrimage to their mother churches and visit their families, making Mothering Sunday a highly anticipated event.
Mothering Sunday in the United Kingdom is associated with numerous Christian religious events and beliefs. It is a day to honor Mary, the mother of Jesus, and to recall the biblical account of Jesus feeding 5,000 people and granting them a break from fasting. However, as the social fabric underwent various changes, the event’s popularity began to decline over time.
After her mother’s death in 1908, Anna Jarvis initiated efforts to establish Mother’s Day in the United States as a day to honor mothers. This inspired Constance Penswick Smith to establish the Mothering Sunday Movement in an effort to revitalize their heritage. Mothering Sunday and Mother’s Day are now used interchangeably, but Mothering Sunday is still observed during Lent in the United Kingdom.
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5. IMPORTANT MOTHERING SUNDAY FACTS
The Ancient Romans celebrated Cybele, a mother deity, in March, around the same time as Mothering Sunday.
On this day, the Lenten fasting regulations are relaxed as food is prepared for the celebration.
Initial observances of Mothering Sunday included Bible verses that expressed to Christians their heritage as children of God, who is viewed as both a father and a mother in his care and affection for his people.
Children would make Simnel cake’s fruit cake for their mothers on this day, as it is a popular treat for this occasion.
In Britain, this event is marked by an abundance of flowers, chocolate, and greeting cards, with roses topping the list of flowers presented to mothers to honor them.
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MOTHERING SUNDAY IN THE U.K. DATES