Christian: Thank Mum this Mothering Sunday

SUNDAY, APRIL 3: Pay a visit to Mum today, and be sure to bake her a special Simnel Cake (at left). We’ve got recipes! For Americans, think of this as practice for the U.S. holiday on May 8—and won’t Mum be pleased?

Mothering Sunday is a centuries-old Christian festival. (The BBC has more.) What began as a devotion to the Virgin Mary changed through the years until it became a celebration for all mothers in Europe.

Roots of this observance go back to pre-Christian Europe. Some experts say it stems from the ancient Roman Hilaria festival of mid-March that honored the mother goddess Cybele; when Christianity spread through Europe, the faithful replaced Cybele with Mary.


As European culture adapted to Mothering Sunday, it became widespread tradition to visit one’s “mother church” and to honor all mothers on Mothering Sunday. (Wikipedia has details.) When Christians journeyed home to visit their “mother church,” or church of baptism, they would reunite with families. Child servants who were working far from their homes would have a chance to see their mothers and, on this special occasion, would often bring flowers to their mothers, along with a traditional Simnel Cake. A relaxation in Lenten rules on Mothering Sunday left Christians able to “sweetly” celebrate with their mothers and families.

Mothering Sunday began losing its widespread appeal in the early 20th century, but interest revived after WWII. American and Canadian soldiers abroad during WWII—many of whom marked a different kind of day for mothers back home—helped to renew the observance in Europe. (Find more information, plus quotes and more for Mom, at


Much like American Mother’s Day, Mothering Sunday has become a great opportunity for businesses to cash in by selling flowers, candy and special gift packages. But, you can satisfy Mum’s sweet tooth with a homemade Simnel Cake today. Try out a recipe from the BBC, or from CatholicCulture.

(Originally published at

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