Mothering Sunday

I’ve wondered why the date of Mothering Sunday in England changes from year to year.  Well here it is – since the 16th century Mothering Sunday has been celebrated in the UK on the fourth Sunday in Lent (exactly three weeks before Easter Sunday) meaning it falls on a different date each year.  Mothering Sunday has been known to be referred to as ‘Refreshment Sunday’ due to the fasting rules for Lent being somewhat relaxed to honour the “feeding of the five thousand” story from the Christian Bible.   People would make a point of attending the largest of their local churches, the “mother church” and were said to have attended “a Mothering”.

Mothering Sunday was also the only day young British boys and girls who were in service (maids and servants), were allowed to visit their families. It would be quite common for the house cook to bake a cake for them to take home to their mothers, sometimes along with a gift of eggs or flowers.  Flowers became a more traditional gift over time as youngsters would gather them from the meadows as they walked home to see their families.

Mothering Sunday in the UK has in recent times, taken on the name and personality of ‘Mothers Day’ from America. In the US, Mothers Day is in May and doesn’t change it’s date year to year like it does in the UK. This transition to ‘Mothers Day’ from ‘Mothering Sunday’ has however meant that the original meaning of Mothering Sunday has been somewhat lost in the UK. It is now quite common for Mothers Day gifts and cards to be given as it has taken on a more commercial spin, rather than meaningful sentiment.  However, many English churches still recognise the historical sense, with attention paid to Mary the mother of Jesus Christ, along with the traditional concept ‘Mother Church’.

La Vierge au Lys (The Virgin of the Lilies) by William Bouguereau, 1899

To celebrate, today I fed the two, Steve and I.  I roasted a pork shoulder and cooked up some sweet potatoes and red onions with a flaked red pepper/maple syrup/balsamic vinegar glaze, plus some steamed spinach.  We had a nice bottle of Rose Grenache with it.  We ate around 3:30 looking out across the rooftops to the blue skies with ewe clouds and their lambs jumping over the treetops.


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