Sunday, 18 March 2007

Happy Mothers' Day

Happy Mothers' Day to all mothers out there - especially Ma Beck, who's celebrating her first Mother's Day with the gorgeous Mary Elizabeth.

Those of you in the Land of the Hallmark Holiday may not appreciate that you're celebrating Mothers' Day today - in the UK, Mothering Sunday has been celebrated on the fourth Sunday in Lent since at least the 16th century. For a long time, it has been a day for giving thanks for all the things our mothers do for us.

About 400 years ago it was considered important for people to visit the nearest big church or cathedral (the 'mother church'), as opposed to their local parish church, at least once a year. It became traditional to do so on this particular Sunday. People who visited their mother church would say they had gone "a-mothering".

The return to the mother church became an occasion for family reunions when children who were working away returned home. It was quite common in those days for young boys and girls to go into service (working as servants for the local gentry) from the age of 10.

Most historians believe that it was the return to the mother church which led to the tradition of young people in service being given the day off to visit their family on Mothering Sunday - this was often their only opportunity to visit their family in the whole year. Maids would often be allowed to bake a cake to take home for their mother. Sometimes they would be allowed to take a gift of eggs, or flowers from the garden or hothouse. In any case, it was traditional to take flowers, as they would have to walk home to their village and would be able to pick wild flowers along the country lanes on their way.

So that's the history. And yes, I have sent something to my own wonderful mother, but I'm afraid I'm not able to go a-mothering this year. I'll see her in a couple of weeks, but in the meantime I hope she knows how much she is loved by her six children and ten grandchildren.

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