Mothering Sunday in the U.K. is on March 19 this year, and we are revved up to celebrate the best people in the world — mothers! Mothering Sunday has been celebrated as far back as the 16th century as a day of worship during Lent, the Christian fasting period. Incorporating the day as Mother’s Day is an addition to a more recent century, but we jump at every chance to celebrate our mothers.
History of Mothering Sunday in the U.K.
Mothering Sunday was originally a day celebrating mother churches in the U.K., Ireland, and several other places. Its genesis can be traced to the middle ages, and it is usually held every year on the fourth Sunday of Lent, which is the period that Christians engage in their yearly fast. Set in the middle of the fasting period, Christians from every corner of the country on that Sunday would make a journey to their mother churches; that is, the church where they had received the sacrament of baptism, the main church or cathedral of the area, to worship. The pilgrimage became known as ‘going-a-mothering.’
The tradition continued and gained popularity in the 16th century in the U.K, becoming a holiday event. Domestic servants and apprentices all over the country who had left their families for a long period of time would be given a day off to make a pilgrimage to their mother churches and visit their loved ones, making Mothering Sunday a much-anticipated event.
Mothering Sunday in the U.K. is tied to several Christian religious occurrences and beliefs. It is a day to honor the Virgin Mary, Mother of Jesus, and also to remember the story of Jesus in the bible where he fed 5,000 and granted them a break from fasting. But over time, the event began to become less popular as the fabrics of society underwent different changes.
In 1908, Anna Jarvis began efforts to establish Mother’s Day in the U.S. as a day to celebrate mothers after her mother’s death. This sparked the drive by Constance Penswick Smith who created the Mothering Sunday Movement in a bid to rekindle their heritage. Mothering Sunday and Mother’s Day are now used interchangeably in recent times, but Mothering Sunday still holds in the U.K. during the period of Lent.
Mothering Sunday in the U.K. timeline
The ancient Greeks celebrate motherhood and mothers alongside Rhea, the gods and goddesses' mother, and the Romans’ mother goddess, Cybele.
According to the Bible, Jesus, after three days of teaching over 5,000 people about religious precepts, fed them using five loaves of bread and two fishes.
With the spread of Christianity into Europe, Mothering Sunday becomes a popular event and somewhat like a holiday.
Constance Penswick Smith, the daughter of a Vicar, establishes the Mothering Sunday Movement and writes several books about the event and what it should constitute.
Mothering Sunday in the U.K. FAQs
Is Mother’s Day in the U.S. different from that in the U.K?
They are not totally different. While Mother’s Day in the U.S is solely to celebrate mothers, Mothering Sunday also celebrates mothers, but the original intention is to attend your mother church for the mid-lent service.
Who invented Mothering Sunday?
The origin of the day is sketchy at best, but during the 20th century, when it was in decline, Constance Penswick Smith reignited the celebration.
Why is it called Mothering Sunday?
This is because it celebrates the Virgin Mary, mother churches, and mothers generally.
How To Celebrate Mothering Sunday in the U.K.
Join in the Lent
Mothering Sunday is held during the Lent period as a short break from fasting. What better way to observe the day than to join in the fasting? Science has also found that fasting can be very good for the body.
Visit a Mother Church
For Christians, this is another opportunity to visit your mother church, where you made your earliest memories. Most families and friends use the opportunity of this day to reconnect, which can be very good while attending church together.
Celebrate mothers who have made an impact in your life, be it your mother, the matronly neighbor, the woman down the road, and mothers around you. Put smiles on their faces by getting them gifts and showing that you care about them.
5 Important Facts About Mothering Sunday
The Ancient Romans celebrated a mother god, Cybele, every March, within the same time Mothering Sunday is celebrated.
It’s also known as Refreshment Sunday
On this day, the rules for the Lent fasting period are relaxed as food is made for the event.
Children of the gospel
The initial practice of Mothering Sunday was observed with verses from the Bible, which expressed to Christians their heritage as a child of God who is seen as both a father and a mother in how he shows care and love towards his people.
Simnel cake's fruit cake is a popular confectionary made to celebrate this day, and children would make them for their mothers.
A rain of flowers
Every year, this event witnesses a large gift of flowers, chocolate, and cards in Britain, with roses topping the list of flowers given to mothers to celebrate them.
Why We Love Mothering Sunday in the U.K.
A day to meet up with friends and loved ones
Mothering Sunday gives us another opportunity to go back and reconnect with friends and family even as we worship at our mother churches. In addition, many non-Christians take the opportunity to eat out and meet up with friends, having fun all the way.
It’s a celebration of Motherhood
We cherish every opportunity we have to celebrate our mothers and tell them how much we love them. Mothering Sunday affords us another day to do just that.
The day is filled with fun and warmth
Meeting up with friends and families and going to eat out can be so much fun. But, more than that, eating homemade delicacies made for the special day can go a long way in satiating our taste buds.
Mothering Sunday in the U.K. dates