Like many traditions and festivities, Mothering Sunday began with a religious purpose. Held on the fourth Sunday in Lent, exactly three weeks before Easter Sunday, it was a originally a day to honour and give thanks to the Virgin Mary, also known as Mother Mary. Such celebrations required people to visit their ‘mother’ church – the main church or cathedral in a family’s area.
The spread of Christianity throughout Europe in the 16th century increased the celebrations and firmly put Mothering Sunday on the calendar. It was believed to be essential for people to return to their home ‘mother’ church to make it a true family honoured occasion. The gatherings reunited families and gave children who worked as domestic servants, or as apprentices away from home (from as early as ten years old), the opportunity to have the day off to join their family and see their mother.
Throughout the year in England and Ireland people would regularly and devoutly visit their nearest chapel, their ‘daughter’ church, whereas on Mothering Sunday, as well as baptisms, people would visit their ‘mother’ church loaded with offerings of thanks. Such celebrations were similar to, and most likely adopted, the Roman ceremonies of the Mother Goddess. The religious day increased its scope from thanking Mother Mary to a ‘mother’ church celebration and finally opened up as an occasion to thank and appreciate all mothers; thus creating Mothering Sunday.
Whilst the day had a firm following for many centuries since the 16th century, by 1935 it started to decrease in popularity and was celebrated less and less in Europe, until WWII. The Americans and Canadians celebrated Mother’s Day during the war, feeling a crucial need to give thanks to their mothers whilst away at war. The Brits and other Europeans followed their comrades and they too gave thanks to their mothers; since then it earns pride of place on the UK calendar.
Source: Find Me A Gift