As we all know, Mother's Day is celebrated in the US on the second sunday of May. But in the United Kingdom the occasion is celebrated as Mothering Sunday.
Originally a Christian holiday, Mothering Sunday was established to honour Mother Mary - a tradition that is believed by many to have been adopted from the Roman practice of worshipping the mother goddess Cybele during mid-March. The day had a different significance in the 17th century England when people made it a point to visit their "Mother Church" or Cathedral of their hometown at least once in the course of a year. Mothering Sunday used to be that sacred time when people came back to their native place to visit and pray in their "Mother Church", where they were baptized. Those working away from home were given a leave by their employers for this purpose. It is not clear when this tradition began but historical records testify to the fact that people indeed adhered to the custom and paid a visit to their "Mother Church" on this particular day, laden with offerings.
With the passage of time, the day became not only a Christian holiday but also a time for homecoming. For little children and daughters who worked away from home as domestic servants, it was a day off to visit their mother and family. Many of them came back not only with offerings, but also small gifts, flowers and special cakes for their parents, specially the female ones. Any youth engaged in such act of duty was said to go 'amothering' and the cake intended for his mother was called the "mothering cake". This is possibly the reason behind the name 'Mothering Sunday'.
The Mothering Sunday tradition began to decline when the English society went through a rapid transformation after the Industrial Revolution. But the occassion slowly regained its popularity in the late 19th century. In present times, Mothering Sunday is a celebration of motherhood and has become quite similar to the American Mother's Day. It is now a day to honor mothers and other mother figures, such as grandmothers, stepmothers and mother-in-laws and make them feel special with gifts such as small jewellery items, chocolates, luxurious clothes, flowers, greeting cards and cakes. It is not a bank holiday in the UK and public transport is easily available though cafes and restaurants are booked as many people have the habit of treating their moms or mother figures to brunch, lunch or high tea on this special day. Those staying away or abroad usually send gifts or cards to their mother.
Mothering Sunday is observed on the fourth Sunday of Lent. It is observed exactly three weeks before Easter Sunday and usually falls in the second half of March or the beginning of April.
(For more information on Mothering Sunday, click here)