The time to thank Mum's, Mother Figures, Grandmas, Aunties or Guardians for all they do. It's an appreciation of everything they have done to help over both the past 12 months and their lifetime.
Mother’s Day began life as the early Christian festival known as ‘Mothering Sunday’. This was an important event for families during the 16th century. During this time, children from poor backgrounds usually left home around the age of ten in order to be put to work! They had to earn a small income to support their families. For many children, this involved becoming domestic servants in wealthy households. Girls would become maids - cook, clean and do housework and boys would become physical aides - cleaning stables, attending to animals and house gardens. Regardless of their role, these children lived in the same place that they worked, earning a pittance and rarely being allowed to leave the property. Blows your mind doesn't it that this was a life for a ten-year old!?
The one occasion when these young domestic servants were allowed to leave their place of work was on the fourth Sunday of Lent (known as Laetare Sunday) - aka Mothering Sunday! On this thankful day, these working children were allowed to spend time with their families and visit their 'mother church'. This would be the main church in their village, the church they had been christened in or the nearest cathedral. Picture the scene - whilst strolling home, these returning children would usually pick the wild flowers, which grew down the sides of paths, to place in their church or give to their mothers as a small gesture of affection. Gradually, this practice (known as Mothering Sunday at this point) evolved into the tradition of giving gifts to mothers.
By the early 1900s, merchants in Britain had cottoned on to the fact that Mothering Sunday was an event to capitalise on. They saw the rising popularity of the tradition and started to manufacture and sell cards and gifts specifically for this purpose. Their cards would often advertise the day as 'Mother’s Day’. Over time, the traditional hand-picked wild flowers were replaced by shop-bought gifts. Thankfully, by this time, children no longer worked as live-in domestic servants, however, the fourth Sunday of Lent remained special and was singled out as a day for families to spend time together.
So as the fourth Sunday of Lent is now often known as both Mothering Sunday and Mother’s Day (the former stemming from more religious traditions), some Christians also call it Rose Sunday. This is in relation to the changing of the colour of the robes worn in church. On this special day, the robes change from purple to pink - aka the colour of the rose. Food has often been used as a reference too. Other people call the day:
- Refreshment Sunday
- Simnel Sunday
- Pudding Pie Sunday (particularly in Surrey in the South of England)
The idea behind these names is - cakes, usually Simnel cakes, would be baked to celebrate families reuniting again on this day.
Over time and due to the determination of social activists like Anna Jarvis, for example, Mother's Day has become widely celebrated in various countries all around the globe. American and Canadian soldiers serving away from home during WWII also helped to popularise the event. The date on which Mother's Day is celebrated does vary though across the world. It can range from 8th March (to tie in with International Women’s Day) to the second Sunday in May in the USA and Brazil. A whole variety of different types of celebrations also take place between the countries. In the UK and Poland, children are very much encouraged to create homemade gifts and design cards. Schools will sometimes hold short plays or presentations in celebration too. In Thailand, children give their mothers garlands or bouquets of jasmine flowers. Wonderfully, in Ethiopia, Mother's Day is a three-day celebration called ‘Antrosht’. Families will eat, sing and dance together during this time.
So, who knew that Mother's Day had such an extensive and varied history!? However you're choosing to celebrate Mother's Day, we'd like to take this opportunity to wish you A Very Happy Mothering Sunday!