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Mothering Sunday

Mother’s Day, or Mothering Sunday as it is properly known, has been around in one form or another since Roman times. The original festival, Hilaria, was to honour the mother goddess Cybele, but as the Romans were gradually converted to Christianity this was changed Laetare Sunday, honoring the Virgin Mary and the holy mother church.

 
Jumping forward to the sixteenth century and we again find references to Laetare Sunday on which people returned to their home or ‘mother’ church. Typically this was the largest church in their home town or region. People who did this were said to have gone ‘a-mothering’. In the seventeenth century, domestic servants were allowed the 4th Sunday in Lent off to go visit their families and mother churches. Those who worked for more wealthy families were often permitted to take small gifts or food home. Simnel cake which gives the day its alternate name, Simnel Sunday, was commonly baked to celebrate the reunion of families. 
 
 
 
 
The days of Lent aren’t a fixed element in the Christian calendar, but move according to the date of the first full moon after the vernal equinox. This means the date of Mother’s day can be any Sunday between 1st March and 4th April. In 2011, it is practically the latest is can be, on 3rd April. In 2012, it is on 18th March.  
 
 
These days, we use Mother’s Day to let our mothers know how much they are loved and appreciated, and the tradition of bringing simple gifts of food home has expanded into a wonderful opportunity to tell our mums just how amazing they are. From handmade cards and breakfast in bed to wonderful floral arrangements, chocolates and maybe even a bottle of something bubbly, we have the option to make the day so very memorable.
 
Whilst Hallmark in the US is responsible for the creation of Grandparents day, in the UK, we also tend to honour our grandmothers on Mother’s Day.