In the aftermath of the Distaffinada blog two days ago, I have been musing about Mothers’ Day. When Mothers’ Day (still also known as ‘Mothering Sunday’) started, it had nothing to do with Mothers: it was a Christian festival, to celebrate people returning to their “mother” church. The festival had roots in the 17th © practice of poor people sending their little children to work as domestic servants or apprentices to the rich. Once a year they could visit their ‘Mother Church’ of their home and not the ‘Daughter Church’, where they now lived. The date fell on the 4th Sunday of Lent.
The tradition faded with the advent of Industrial Revolution when the working conditions and life pattern changed and, by the 1930′s, the custom had all but disappeared. Then American and Canadian soldiers serving here in WWII brought it back to life while serving far from home. So, through their influence, Mothering Sunday was thereby revitalised and the 4th Sunday of Lent every year (this year the 3rd of April) became the secular British version of their Mother’s Day. Confusingly, our American cousins still celebrate their Mothers’ Day on the 2nd Sunday in May.
Children pay tribute to their mothers in thanks for all their love and support. Flowers record their maximum sale (more than Valentine’s Day) as people gift them flowers more than anything else. But I have been trying to imagine the well meaning but nonetheless clumsy ‘cybernats’ who were all over Sara’s contribution to the political debate giving their mums flowers yesterday instead of another sheaf of leaflets to get out and deliver in the cause. Re-reading their blogs, I have difficulty seeing them in that more human light.
Perhaps that’s a problem with strong belief—it doesn’t appear to allow latitude for doubt—nor time for the more gracious and generous things in life.