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St. Mary Magdalen's
Catholic Church
Willesden Green
London NW10
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Friday, March 16, 2012
Fourth Sunday of Lent – 18th March 2012
Mothers Day or Mothers’ Day or Mother’s Day or Mothers’s Day?

There is much talk at the moment over the misplacing of the apostrophe. Indeed, watching the BBC news subtitles the other day, a glaring error was fixed within moments. However, to avoid controversy today as we remember our mothers, I shall resort to giving this day its proper title – Mothering Sunday.

It falls on a different day each year because it is always held on the middle Sunday of Lent and, unlike its American counterpart (held annually in May), it is not a celebration of motherhood, but a synonym of Laetare Sunday. During the sixteenth century, people who lived in little villages made a point of going not to their local church but to the nearest large church or Cathedral – to make a visit to what is often called the Mother Church. Such visitors were said to have gone, “a-mothering.”

Often, it was the only time whole families could come together as it was the only day in the year that boys and girls “in service” were allowed to go home. The housekeeper or cook would allow maids to take home a cake they had baked, and the boys could bring eggs or flowers from the hothouse. Walking home through the village, all would pick flowers for their mothers and in time this practice dominated and the real meaning of the day was lost.

Simnel Sunday is another title for today. The most favoured cake baked was a simnel cake which consists of a fruit cake covered with a flat layer of marzipan and then 11 marzipan balls representing the 12 apostles minus Judas. Given the colour of the vestments worn, Rose Sunday is an alternative name. Part of the reason for the colour was that on this day the Golden Rose sent to Catholic sovereigns was blessed by the Pope and hence the day was sometimes called, “Domenica de Rosa.” But the best reason for the change in colour is that today is also called Refreshment Sunday because given the celebration of the fellowship of the family there was a lightening of the Lenten vows for 24 hours.

Yet another thing to thank our mums for. Happy Mothering Sunday to everyone, especially our mothers, living and dead.

Fr Kevin

posted by Sinead Reekie at 11:45 am