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.