Mothering Sunday

During the sixteenth century, people returned to their mother church for a service to be held on Laetare Sunday, the fourth Sunday in Lent. This was either a large local church, or more often the nearest Cathedral. Anyone who did this was commonly said to have gone 'a-mothering', although whether this preceded the term Mothering Sunday is unclear.

In later times, Mothering Sunday became a day when domestic servants were given a day off to visit their mother church, usually with their own mothers and other family members. It was the only time that whole families could gather together, since on other days they were prevented by conflicting working hours, or, more usually, since holidays had not been invented, that was the only day in the year that they were allowed off. It was then principally used to show appreciation to one's mother.

By the 1920s, the custom of keeping Mothering Sunday had tended to lapse in Ireland and continental Europe. Its wide scale revival was through the influence of American and Canadian soldiers serving abroad during World War II; the traditions of Mothering Sunday were merged with the newly-imported traditions and celebrated in the wider Catholic and secular society.



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