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Thursday, March 12, 2009

Mothering Sunday

This year Mothering Sunday is celebrated on March 22 in the UK.

I confess I had never heard of Mothering Sunday until last month. I assumed it had something to do with a day honoring mothers, but when Mills and Boon combined my debut, The Angel and the Outlaw, with Sarah Mallory's More Than a Governess, they entitled the new book ~ On Mothering Sunday.

My curiosity peaked; I delved into the long and rich history of the United Kingdom to find that the origin of Mothering Sunday offered a bit more substance and tradition than the Mother’s Day we celebrate in the U.S.A.

Mothering Sunday is always the fourth Sunday in Lent, a half-way point when the strict fasting would be relaxed for a day. The day dates back to the 1600s when once a year, church-goers would go to their “mother church” or the largest church or cathedral in the area rather than attending their nearby village church. It was the time--once a year--when maids and apprentices were given a day off to visit their mothers. Often children as young as ten years old would leave their homes and go into service. I can imagine that Mothering Sunday must have been quite a day for family reunions and celebrations.

In Victorian times, the maids were allowed to bake a cake to take to their mothers. The Simnel cake became the traditional cake for Mothering Sunday. It is a light, fruity cake decorated with eleven marzipan balls on top that represent the apostles (Judas is absent.) Another tradition was that the children, as they walked home, would gather wild flowers from the fields and roadside along the way to present to their mothers.
I found several recipes online for Simnel cake, but I thought the most traditional one would come from the U.K. It sounds like it would be delicious and I’m determined to make a cake to celebrate Mothering Sunday and the release of my debut book in the United Kingdom. Here’s a link to the recipe I’m using: BBC's

Do you have a special Mother's Day tradition you'd like to share? For those who comment, I'll put your name in a drawing for a free, autographed copy of On Mothering Sunday--a two-book prize!


Annette McCleave said...

Huge congratulations on having the Angel and the Outlaw included in the anthology!

I'd never heard of Mothering Sunday--until now. Thanks for sharing, Kathryn, and good luck with the cake!

Kathryn Albright said...

Thanks Annette! Yes--we'll see how my baking goes. I'm always up for trying something new in the kitchen.

bobbi said...

Thanks, Kathryn! What an interesting post. Can you imagine sending a ten-year-old away from home to work? How blessed we are...

Kathryn Albright said...

Thanks for commenting Bobbi! I know what you mean. Makes me really glad to be living now-a-days! I couldn't bear to send my child away like that.

Meagan Hatfield said...

Hi Kathryn!

Congrats on the UK release!! And what an interesting blog. Although, I'm not sure about the cake. :-)

As for a Mother's Day tradition - try and remember to call to my mom! I send her a card, but always forget to call. lol!

Kathryn Albright said...

Hey Meagan,

Thanks for commenting! Here's hoping this HHRW blog gets off and running well. It could be wonderful resource.

My mom gets a call and card too. I haven't been able to be home for a Mother's Day since I married. Hate that. Just live too far away now.

Anonymous said...

I'd never heard of Mothering Sunday, very interesting. Cakes and flowers...seems to be an international celebratory gift. Although I have to wonder about marzipan balls. Maybe it's like the icing roses on a birthday cake, everyone fights for them.

Great blog, and congrats on going international!

Unknown said...

I remember simnel cakes as a child. My mother always made one. In fact I have that recipe somewhere!

Mothering Sunday was always celebrated in Church and the children were given flowers at the alter to present to their mothers, usually violets.

Happy memories and Congratulations on the UK release

Kathryn Albright said...

Hello Kathy!

Yes--when I read more about Mothering Sunday, I realized I was culturally illiterate in this area! All the tradition and history kind of puts our Mother's Day here to shame. The UK has such a rich history.

Thanks for commenting!

Kathryn Albright said...

Hi Ann,

Thanks for commenting--and obviously you are from across the pond! It's so delightful to have you here! Thanks for the word about the violets.

Anonymous said...

Kathryn, I found your post quite interesting. To read o9f something familar but not.

Anna Kathryn Lanier said...

Wow, Kathryn. I've never heard of Mothering Sunday and as an Episocpalian, you'd think I would. But I guess it didn't carry over to the U.S. church from the Church of England. Or it got lost along the way.

Thanks for the information. I found it very interesting.

My houshold doesn't really have a traditional Mother's Day activity. Though I usually get my husband to BBQ, so I don't have to cook!

Anna Kathryn

Jeanmarie Hamilton said...

Thanks for the history of Mothering Day. I hadn't heard of it either. :-) Congratulations on the release of your historical!


Paty Jager said...

It's amazing all the different things different countries celebrate and why. Interesting blog.

Kathryn Albright said...

Hi Kathy, Anna, and JeanMarie and Paty! I replied once before but it didn't seem to "take." I appreciate your comments! Glad to know the blog held some interest. I do love learning about different cultures and the history behind their traditions. It just fascinated me. I'm looking forward to reading more interesting blogs here as Seduced by History gets started! I'll draw a name at midnight, central time tonight and contact you!

Kathryn Albright said...

Good Morning! Ann Lethbridge--I drew your name and so you are the winner of a copy of On Mothering Sunday! Congratulations! Just send me your snail mail addy and I'll get it in the mail!