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What is Mothering Sunday? And how do you celebrate it in beads?

Simnel Cake, what is Mothering Sunday, Katie Dean, Beadflowers
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Last week, I promised you a month of celebrating Spring in beads. Spring is filled with festivals and holidays. Here in the UK we celebrate Mother’s Day in March. Yet, many other countries celebrate their Mum’s in May. So, why is this and what is Mothering Sunday?

I thought it would be fun to share the history of this particular Spring festival. Plus, I’ll be sharing a few beading ideas in case you need some inspiration for celebrating.

Flower Basket Beaded Box, Katie Dean, BeadflowersGet the flower basket beaded box pattern here>>

What is Mothering Sunday?

Well, if you go back through the centuries, Mothering Sunday is actually a religious festival. It probably dates to the sixteenth century. That explains why it falls in March here in the UK. It also explains why the date moves each year.

In the Church, Mothering Sunday is the fourth Sunday of Lent. So, just as Easter moves date, Mothering Sunday moves to match in the UK and Ireland.

Originally, the Festival was about returning to the Mother Church. This would have meant the Cathedral or main church in the area, rather than the local Parish church where worshippers attended every Sunday.

Wealthy families gave their servants the day off. So they could return home to attend their Mother Church with the rest of their family. You begin to get the link between family and this Festival.

Picture a scene where the young servants have been given their day off. They are wandering through the Spring lanes on their way to Church. Knowing that they are about to be reunited with family, maybe they pick a few wild flowers to give as a gift to their Mum.

So, could this be the start of the tradition of giving Mum flowers to show how much you love her?

If you would like to read more about the religious meaning of the Festival, then this is a helpful blog.

French Beaded Iris BouquetFind French beaded flower patterns here>>

How did Mothering Sunday become Mother’s Day?

Well, despite the obvious confusion between the two festivals, they are not technically the same. So, how does the link originate, other than through the name, you may ask?

To discover the origins of Mother’s day – the celebration of your wonderful Mum – you need to go back to early twentieth century America.

On 10th May 1908, Anna Jarvis held a memorial to commemorate her Mother and all mothers, three years after her Mother’s death. This may not seem significant, but Anna’s mother, Ann Maria, had been a social activist and founder of the Mother’s Day Work Clubs.

Think about it – this is the same era in which the Women’s Suffrage movement was so active. Women were claiming their place in the world and asking for respect for their contribution to society.

Rivoli Peyote Stitch Flower Pendant Pattern, Katie Dean, BeadflowersGet the Peyote stitch flower pattern here>>

So, yes Mother’s Day is very much about honouring your Mum and all that she has done for you.

Now, the two festivals came together during and after World War I. Constance Penwick-Smith, daughter of a vicar in Nottinghamshire (UK), was inspired by Anna Jarvis’ movement. So, in 1921, she published a book calling for the reinstatement of the lapsed Mothering Sunday Festival.

So, during the twentieth century, we see the two ideas merge into one. The timing of the Festival in the UK and Ireland retains its religious links. Yet, with commercialisation and influences from abroad, the way in which we now celebrate is more likely to be secular.

In the US and Australia, the timing of Mother’s Day is in May, following on from Anna Jarvis’ original commemoration.

Beginner French Beaded Flowers Kit, basic French beading patternGet the beginner’s French beaded flower kit here>>

What is Mothering Sunday Food?

Well, did you even know there was a special food for the day? It’s Simnel Cake. (So, that explains why I’ve illustrated this article with my beaded simnel cake).

This is a fruit cake with a layer of Marzipan baked into the centre. Traditionally, people decorated it with Marzipan and little Marzipan balls to represent the Apostles. So, here again, you see the religious link.

Mothering Sunday also allowed a relaxation in the rules of fasting for Lent. So, the Simnel cake would have used ingredients that should not have been consumed during Lent.

Serving girls would bake their Simnel cake and take it home to family for the occasion.

Simnel Cake, what is Mothering Sunday, Katie Dean, BeadflowersGet the simnel cake beading kit here>>

How to celebrate Mother’s Day in beads

Well, now I’ve answered your question about what is Mothering Sunday, you can probably see how to reflect those traditions in a beaded celebration.

I’ve put together a whole group of projects that would be great for celebrating Mother’s Day or Mothering Sunday. So, you can browse them here>>

I’ve also been including some appropriate beading patterns throughout this blog, to inspire you.

French beaded cyclamenGet the French beaded cyclamen pattern here>>

If you are looking elsewhere and want to remain true to the Festival’s roots, then think flowers. Of course, with modern commercialisation, chocolates have become a popular gift. Or just about anything that will show your Mum how special she is.

So, here is your chance to set up a few traditions of your own!

One thought on “What is Mothering Sunday? And how do you celebrate it in beads?

  1. Thank you for this interesting blog about the history!

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