Monday, March 19, 2012

Mothering Sunday

Last week on the morning radio net for this marina a British woman named Jill announced a special celebration for Mothering Sunday, 18 March.  The local restaurant Deks, which is owned by 2 British couples, organized a tour bus to transport people in the marina to the main location of their restaurant down in the town of Bogaz for a special dinner in honor of Mothering Sunday.   

Okay.  What is Mothering Sunday?  Never heard of that one.  But Wikipedia knows all about it.

Mothering Sunday is a Christian religious holiday celebrated throughout Europe.  It is the fourth Sunday of Lent.  The fourth Sunday during Lent is also known as Laetare Sunday and is to honor the Virgin Mary and the "mother church."  Secularly it has become a common day to celebrate motherhood, like Mothers Day in the USA.   

During the sixteenth century people returned to their mother church for a service to be held on Laetare Sunday.  They returned to either a large local church or (more often) the nearest cathedral.  Anyone who did this was commonly said to have gone "a-mothering,"  although whether this term preceded the term Mothering Sunday is unclear.  

In later times, Mothering Sunday became a day when domestic servants were given a day off to visit their mother church, usually with their own mothers and other family members.  It was often the only time that whole families could gather together, since on other days they were prevented by conflicting working hours.  More usually, since holidays had not yet been invented, this was the only day in the year that they were allowed off.

Children and young people who were 'in service" (servants in richer households) were given a day off on that date so they could visit their families.....or, originally, to return to their mother church.   The children would pick wild flowers along the way to place in the church or to give to their mothers as gifts.  Eventually the religious tradition evolved into the Mothering Sunday secular tradition of giving gifts to mothers.

Other names attributed to this festival include Refreshment Sunday, Pudding Pie Sunday, Mid-Lent Sunday, Simnel Sunday and Rose Sunday.   Simnel Sunday is named after the practice of baking Simnel cakes to celebrate the reuniting of families during the austerity of Lent.  There is traditionally a relaxation of Lenten vows on this particular Sunday in celebration of the fellowship of family and church.  (A Simnel cake is a light fruit cake with a marzipan filling and marzipan topping, which is toasted before being eaten.  On top of the cake are placed eleven small marzipan balls, said to represent the true disciples of Jesus.  Judas is omitted.  In some variations Christ is also represented by a marzipan ball placed in the center.) 

This Sunday was also once knows as "the Sunday of the Five Loaves" from the traditional gospel reading for the day.  At one time churches celebrated the story of the feeding of the five thousand.  Also, the epistle for the fourth Sunday in Lent gives a special place to the theme of maternal love.  Another tradition associated with Mothering Sunday is the practice of "clipping the church" whereby the congregation forms a ring around their church building, holding hands, and embrace the church.  Also, during the church services held that day, it is traditional for children to give a bunch of spring flowers to their mothers.

For some Church of England churches, Mothering Sunday is the only day during Lent when marriages can be celebrated.

Since neither Bill nor I are members of the Church of England and this day holds no special significance for us whatsoever, we opted not to attend the special dinner.  Almost everyone else in the marina chose to celebrate.  

And they all said they were celebrating Mothers Day.  No one said they were celebrating Mothering Day.

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