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Mothering Sunday

Mothering Sunday is a religious holiday that also is celebrated secularly. It is mainly celebrated in Europe by Catholic and Protestant Christians, taking place exactly three weeks before Easter, on the fourth Sunday of Lent. Originally, during the sixteenth century, it was a day when people who visit their "mother" church: the place where they were baptized, the local parish church, or the nearest cathedral—the mother church of all area parish churches. Eventually, domestic servants were given the day off to visit their mother church and their families. Children would pick up flowers on their way to church to either put in the church or give to their mothers.

By the early twentieth century, the day was not as widely celebrated, but eventually there was a revival. Constance Penswick-Smith created the Mothering Sunday Movement and wrote a book in 1921 to bring awareness to the day. During World War II, American and Canadian soldiers abroad influenced the holiday, and the old church traditions were merged with imported traditions. By the 1950s, it was widely celebrated in Europe and became more commercialized. It was often called Mother's Day, especially in the United Kingdom and the Republic of Ireland. In the United States, it began being celebrated the same way as Mother's Day is celebrated elsewhere; the giving of gifts to mothers became a large part of the day. Other traditions associated with the day are eating Simnel cake and "clipping the church". The fourth Sunday of Lent is known by various other names, including Refreshment Sunday, Pudding Pie Sunday, Mid-Lent Sunday, Simnel Sunday, and Rose Sunday.

How to Observe

If you grew up in a church, the day could be celebrated by attending the church you were baptized in, or by visiting a local parish church or cathedral. You could celebrate your mother today, and bring her some gifts. You could also make and eat some Simnel cake!

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