Mothering Sunday

Happy Mothering Sunday Mum!

Spring Snowflakes (Leucojum vernum)

Mothering Sunday is the British “Mother’s Day”, and I am glad to say that it is often still called by its original name. Its history is quite different to that of the American (and now internationally celebrated ) Mother’s Day, and it was originally more a Christian festival than a celebration of women’s achievements.

During the sixteenth century, people returned to their “mother church” on the fourth Sunday of Lent. Servants were usually given a holiday enabling them to visit their families. Traditions arose from this; for example, on their way home, girls picked wild flowers such as violets to give to their mothers in church, and sometimes they took a Simnel Cake with them. Although it was Lent, the rules were traditionally relaxed on this Sunday, and the sweet fruit cake, made with two layers of almond paste, had 11 balls of marzipan icing on top representing the 11 disciples. (Judas is not included.) Traditionally, sugar violets would also be added.

Another tradition associated with Mothering Sunday is the “church clipping”; the congregation form a ring around their church and link hands to embrace it. Sadly I have never seen this myself and am not sure if it is still done.

Nowadays it is mainly the commercialised holiday of flowers and chocolates. Not that that is a bad thing if you’re a mother!

Dwarf Iris (Iris reticulata)

Glory-of-the-snow (Chionodoxa)

6 thoughts on “Mothering Sunday

  1. Thanks for the history of the British “Mother’s Day.” Our daughter studied in London last year and she (and several of her British friends) sent Happy Mothering Sunday greetings to my wife here in the U.S. Also, thanks for sharing your beautiful plant photographs!

  2. Wonderfully photographed spring flowers! I especially like “Spring Snowflakes”(Märzbecher), in Germany also called “Frühlingsknotenblume”. I put it on my autumn plant list.

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