Mothering Sunday – Mothers Day 2013 in UK and Ireland

Mothering Sunday

Mother’s Day 2013 – UK and Ireland

Mothers Day 2013: March 10th 2013.

Mothers Day in the UK and Ireland has its roots going back into ancient times with connections to both the pagan Roman Spring Festivals and the Early Christian celebrations in honor of the Virgin Mary.

The earliest history of Mothers Day in the UK is through the influence of the Romans festival of Hilaria that was dedicated to a mother goddess called Cybele.  With the Roman invasion of Great Britain, the festival became one of many pagan festivals celebrated in those early times before the birth of Christ.  

Due to the influence of the early Christians, a religious festival celebrating the Virgin Mary eventually superceded the pagan mother goddess festival.   Designated to be celebrated on the fourth Sunday of Lent, the religious event was later extended to include all mothers, as well as the Virgin Mary and the name Mothering Sunday was born.  

Mothering Sunday became a day when church services honouring the Virgin Mary were held and children would bring flowers and gifts to pay tribute to their own mothers.   

For those people who had gone into service to work as servants in wealthy landowners homes, Mothering Sunday became one of the few occasions when they were allowed to return home to visit their mothers.   

The origin of the Simnel cake dates back to the 1600’s when young girls would bake their mothers a rich fruit cake with almond icing to present to their mothers as a gift.  The cake that was given during the fasting month of Lent had to be rich enough to last until it could be eaten at Easter.  The original recipe required the cake to be both boiled and baked.  However in more recent times the recipe for Simnel Cake has become much simpler and is now only baked and decorated with 11 marzipan balls representing Jesus’ true apostles.  

Although the custom of celebrating Mothers Day had declined by the 19th century, the celebration was reactivated due to the influence of American servicemen coming to the UK during World War II.  Mother’s Day in the USA had become an official national holiday in 1914.

Mothers Day continues to be a well celebrated event in the UK calendar with both Church Services celebrating “Mothering Sunday” as well as the commercial side with children buying their mothers flowers and other Mother’s Day presents.

In the UK and Ireland – as well as in a number of other countries, where mother’s Day 2013 follows the same pattern as the UK and Ireland,  Mother’s Day 2013 will continue to be this strange mix of religious festival and commercial holiday.

However, there are other forms of Mother’s Day celebrations in other countries.

All – well at least most – incorporate the giving of gifts.




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