Mothering Sunday : A halfway house in which to relax for a moment during Lent
written by a member of our local congregation for the parish magazine.
There is an old Jewish saying: God could not be everywhere, and therefore He made mothers.
Mother Church, Mother Earth, Mother of the Gods – our human mothers – all of them have been part of the celebration of ‘Mothering Sunday’ – as the fourth Sunday in Lent is affectionately known. It has been celebrated in the UK since at least the 16th century.
In Roman times, great festivals were held every Spring to honour Cybele, Mother of all the Gods. Other pagan festivals in honour of Mother Earth were also celebrated. With the arrival of Christianity, the festival became one honouring Mother Church.
During the Middle Ages, young people apprenticed to craftsmen or working as ‘live-in’ servants were allowed only one holiday a year on which to visit their families – which is how ‘Mothering Sunday’ got its name. This special day became a day of family rejoicing, and the Lenten fast was broken. In some places, the day was called Simnel Day because of the sweet cakes called simnel cakes traditionally eaten on that day.
In recent years the holiday has changed and, in many ways, now resembles the American Mothers’ Day, with families going out to Sunday lunch and generally making a fuss of their mothers on the day.