The UK’s celebration of Mothering Sunday stems from the 16th Century, when people returned to their mother church for the service of Refreshment Sunday, so called because the fasting rules of Lent were relaxed on that day.

As a result of this tradition, most mothers were reunited with their children because young apprentices and young women that were in domestic service were released by their masters for that weekend.  Children would pick wild flowers as they walked home for their church or to give them to their mother as a small gift.

At the start of the 19th Century the custom was still popular but the Industrial Revolution saw these traditions change and the Mothering Sunday customs declined.

People in the UK began to celebrate what we now know as Mother’s Day on the fourth Sunday of Lent, the same day on which Mothering Sunday had been celebrated for centuries.  The UK celebration has no connection to the American celebration of the same name.

Some of the Mothering Sunday customs were revived, such as the tradition of eating cake on that day, although celebrants now eat *Simnel Cake  instead of the cakes that were traditionally baked at that time.

The traditions of the two holidays are now fused together and celebrated on the same day, although many people are not aware that the celebrations have quite separate origins. UK-based companies saw the business opportunity of Mother’s Day and heavily promoted it in the UK and by the 1950’s it was celebrated across all of the UK

 Fact OR Fiction?

The name Simnel probably comes from the Latin word ‘Simila’, which means finest wheat flour usually used for baking cakes.

There is also a folk tale that a man called Simon and his wife Nell argued over whether a cake for Mothering Sunday should be baked or boiled.  In the end they decided to do both, so they named the cake after both of them, Sim-Nell!