Simnel Cake

The Original Mother’s Day

March 24, 2017 by

The liturgical name for the fourth Sunday in Lent is “Laetare” which means “rejoice” and comes from the first words of the liturgy for that day: “Rejoice, O Jerusalem.”  And of course, we’re all rejoicing because Lent is half over. Yay!

But the English have another name for this day – they call it “Mothering Sunday.” In the sixteenth century, Christians would return to visit the church in which they had been baptized – their Mother Church, as it were.  It then also became the custom for people to visit their own mothers, and to bring them flowers and a special cake (called a simnel cake–a sort of light fruitcake) and to ask for a blessing. Servants were even given the day off to celebrate the holiday.

The poet Robert Herrick immortalized the day in a poem:

I’ll to thee a Simnel bring
‘Gainst thou go’st a-Mothering
So that, when she blesseth thee,
Half that blessing thou’lt give me.

Both the church in which I was baptized, and my mother, reside out of state, but perhaps, I’ll give her a call and ask for her blessing on this, the Christian, original Mother’s Day.

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