Mothering Sunday

Word of the day, 15th March 2015

Mothering Sunday

Here’s a bit of cultural information, rather than a new word itself.

Today in the UK it is “Mothering Sunday”.

In recent years this has become called “Mother’s Day”, so it is easy to get confused with another day that many other parts of the world celebrate!

“Mothering Sunday” dates as far back as the 16th century, and it was a particular day that people would return to the main church or cathedral of the area, or “the mother church”.   Domestic servants would be given a day off to do this, usually with their own mothers and other family members.  It was often one of very few times in the year that whole families could gather together, since on other days they were prevented by conflicting working hours, and servants were not given free days on other occasions.

We don’t really follow these traditions anymore; at least I don’t know anyone who does, and the “Mother’s Day” idea has really taken over.

“Mother’s Day” is a modern (secular) celebration originating in North America, honouring one’s own mother, as well as motherhood, maternal bonds, and the influence of mothers in society.  It was first celebrated in 1908.  In the majority of countries that have adopted “Mother’s Day” it is on the second Sunday of May.  However, other countries have “assimilated” the day into what were their own customs – such as in the UK, where “Mothering Sunday” is always on the 4th Sunday in Lent, and so it moves around depending on when Easter is.  (Easter is linked to Passover, which is determined by a Lunar calendar!)

Bonus word for reading this far:

assimilate /əˈsɪmɪˌleɪt/ (verb) – “to become absorbed, incorporated, or learned and understood“.
“I need to read this again, to assimilate the information.” 🙂

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