Yesterday was Mothering Sunday, so it seemed like an appropriate time to look into its origins. In the UK it has gradually been transformed into ‘Mothers’ Day’ for all but a few die-hards like me, but this is one of numerous American imports into our culture and although it’s a worthy one and in essence the same as what Mothering Sunday had already become here, it’s worth noting the rather different origin of the celebration (at least according to many historians).
Perhaps surprisingly, it had nothing to do with mothers! In ye olde days, when the church
was at the heart of the community, attending one’s local church was common and sometimes even compulsory. But a tradition arose in centuries past that during Lent people would make a return visit to the church in the parish where they were born. It was referred to as the ‘mother church’ – giving rise to Mothering Sunday. It’s not hard to see how returning to one’s birthplace also entailed returning to one’s family, perhaps bringing gifts, leading to the modern twist on the concept.