Mothering Sunday was originally a time when people returned to the church, in which they were baptised or where they attended services when they were children. This meant that families were reunited as adults returned to the towns and villages where they grew up.
In time, it became customary for young people who were working as servants in large houses, to be given a holiday on Mothering Sunday. They could use this d
ay to visit their own mother and often took a gift of food or hand-me-down clothing from their employers to her. In turn, this moved towards the modern holiday, on which people still visit and take gifts to their mothers.
Traditionally, people observed a fast during Lent. Lent is the period from Ash Wednesday until Good Friday. During the Lent fast, people did not eat from sweet, rich foods or meat. However, the fast was lifted slightly on Mothering Sunday and many people prepared a Simnel cake to eat with their family on this day.
A Simnel cake is a light fruit cake covered with a layer of marzipan and with a layer of marzipan baked into the middle of the cake. Traditionally, Simnel cakes are decorated with 11 or 12 balls of marzipan, representing the 11 disciples and, sometimes, Jesus Christ. One legend says that the cake was named after Lambert Simnel who worked in the kitchens of Henry VII of England sometime around the year 1500.
Follow this link for the recipe for Mary Berry’s Simnel Cake
Many of our churches are having a Mothering Sunday Service – please check our Calendar – and you are very welcome to join us. Messy Church are leading the 10.30 Service at the Priory Church of St Mary in Usk on that Sunday.