A Brief History of Celebrating Mums

A Brief History of Celebrating Mums

Mother’s Day is once again almost upon us, and this year quite early. Not to worry though, the daffodils are out and blooming, and there’s still plenty of time to make plans! To get in to the spirit of things we’ve put together a brief history of the day, and a few ideas to help you make this year’s Mother’s Day special.


The Origins of Mothering Sunday

Picking Flowers ImageMothering Sunday can be traced back to very old roots indeed, tied primarily to Christianity. Its origins stem from the pre-Reformation celebration of Laetare Sunday, which is the fourth Sunday of Lent. On this day, in 16th century England, churchgoers would return to their home towns and villages and attend their “mother church”—the church in which they had been Christened. Many were as young as 10! Having taken up domestic and other apprenticeships away from their home towns, opportunities to return home and to be with family were scarce, but employers would give young workers the day off to go home for Laetare. Historians note that children returning home would often pick flowers on their journey, which they'd give to their mothers. Some would also take home a simnel cake (a traditional fruit cake with marzipan, and a real treat mid-lent), which was often given to them by their employers for their families 


Mother and Child Image

So these scarce trips, in which people would visit their “mother church” became occasions to visit family, to spend precious time with their actual mothers.

This was often the last chance to do so until the following Christmas. Given this old tradition, it isn’t exactly hard to understand where the association between the fourth Sunday in Lent and celebrating our mothers came from.


Mothering Sunday in the 20th Century

Over the centuries the celebration of Mothering Sunday dwindled, and eventually became largely unobserved until, in 1921, a woman named Constance Smith published a booklet entitled The Revival of Mothering Sunday. Smith documented the old traditions surrounding the fourth Sunday in Lent, cementing the day as “the True and Ancient Day in Praise of Mothers,” as she called it. 

Gift Image

Smith was in part inspired by the efforts of an American woman, Anna Jarvis, who had (successfully) campaigned for a day to honour mothers in the U.S. Constance Smith’s campaign to revive Mothering Sunday were not in vein, and the idea caught on quickly—especially in the immediate wake of the First World War, in which so many mothers were suddenly bereft of their children. 

The American celebration is observed on the second Sunday of May (when Jarvis lost her own mother) and is called Mother’s Day, while the British, Lent based, event is technically Mothering Sunday (but often abbreviated to Mother’s Day). 


Celebrating This Mother's Day

Simnel Cake Image


Today we continue to honour our mums with gifts and cards on Mothering Sunday, but also with flowers, unknowingly echoing our 16th century ancestors. Aside from its more religious origins, the fourth Sunday of Lent has become an opportunity to show appreciation for our mothers. And what an amazing bunch they truly are!



(Image Credit)

If you’re looking for ways to make your mum feel special this Mothering Sunday, why not try your hand at baking her a traditional simnel cake? They’re also traditional for Easter, so if you’re a simnal fan you’ll have the perfect excuse to make another one a few weeks later too! Our Cookshop has plenty of fantastic baking equipment to help you get started. Or, if you’re not a natural chef, and attempting to bake will likely make your mother question who the cake wielding imposter before her is, you could treat her to lunch or Afternoon Tea in our 1738 tearoom instead.


My English Summer Image

Be sure to take a peek at our range of Mother’s Day cards in store if you're still looking for something special.

There’s quite a variety, so whether you’re looking for something warm and fuzzy in sentiment, or something with a more humorous edge, we have plenty to choose from. 


Best Mum Card

And, if you’re looking for the perfect gift, we have a selection of great ideas from jewellery and beauty gifts to pamper her with, to gifts for the homeOr why not have a browse for something you know your mum will love? Whatever you have in mind for this Mothering Sunday though, be sure to make some time for the woman herself (whether it’s in person or over the phone), and show her just how fantastically appreciated she is! Thanks Mum!

27th February 2016

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