1 The earliest Mother’s Day celebrations can be traced back to the spring celebrations of ancient Greece in honour of Rhea, the Mother of the Gods.

2 The Romans called their version of the event the Hilaria, and celebrated on the Ides of March by making offerings in the temple of Cybele, the Mother of the Gods. Ceremonies in her honour began some 250 years before Christ was born.

3 God could not be everywhere, so he made mothers – Jewish proverb.

4 During the 1600’s, England celebrated a day called “Mothering Sunday”, celebrated on the 4th Sunday of Lent.

5 Mothering Sunday was a time put aside for relaxation and enjoyment during the long Lenten fast. In olden days, young servant girls who worked away from home were given time off by their masters to visit their mothers on this special day and they would bake a simnel cake to present as a gift.

6 In an age when children as young as ten left home to take up work or apprenticeships elsewhere, this was often the only day in the whole year when families would be reunited. By the 17th century, it had become a public holiday, when servants and apprentices were given the day off so that they could fulfil their duties to the Church.

7 “I remember my mother’s prayers and they have always followed me. They have clung to me all my life” – Abraham Lincoln

8 Another explanation states that centuries ago it was considered important for people to return to their home or “mother” church once a year. So each year in the middle of Lent, everyone would visit their “mother” church, or the main church or Cathedral of the area.

9 Another popular ceremony on this day was church-clipping (meaning to clasp or tightly grip the church), when people would express their love for their house of worship by forming a circle and walking round the building holding hands. It has been suggested that this custom was pagan in origin but it seems more likely it was a symbolic act of friendship and love.

10 Eventually, the return to the “mother” church became an occasion for family reunions when children who were working away returned home.

11 Sometimes furmety was served – wheat grains boiled in sweet milk, sugared and spiced.

12 In northern England and in Scotland, the preferred refreshments were carlings – pancakes made of steeped pease fried in butter, with pepper and salt. In fact, in some locations this day was called Carling Sunday.

13 “There was never a great man who had not a great mother” – Oliver Schreiner

14 Earlier traditions saw Simnel Cake being eaten on Mothering Sunday, but it soon became customary to keep the cake until Easter Sunday.

15 This rich fruit cake was said to test the girl’s skills as a cook. If it remained moist and maintained its taste until Easter Sunday, she was seen as a good cook.

16 Mothering Sunday was also referred to as Refreshment Sunday due to the relaxing of the rules for Lent on that particular day.

17 The name simnel is derived from the old French word simenel via the Latin term used to describe the finest flour for baking cakes, simila.

18 Simnel cake is a rich fruitcake covered with a thick layer of almond paste or icing, and decorated with eleven small balls of almond paste – made to signify all the apostles except Judas.

19 Originally, the crust was occasionally made from a mixture of flour and water, which was coloured with saffron.

20 The earliest simnel cakes were more akin to biscuits due to their size and thinness.

21 Another tradition was to engrave a figure of Jesus in the centre of the cake with the 11 or 12 paste balls surrounding the image.

22 Traditionally these cakes were also decorated with fresh flowers, although these days most cooks use crystallized flowers – such as violets and primroses – or fluffy chicks and coloured eggs.

23 An early mention of Simnel, dated early 1200s, appears in the history of the village of Comberton. A manor was given to Erchenger, the baker, who had to provide a hot simnel loaf to the King each morning in return.

24 Another tradition states that Mothering Sunday (or Mid-Lent Sunday as it is also known) commemorates the banquet given by Joseph to his brethren.

25 “A mother is a person who seeing there are only four pieces of pie for five people, promptly announces she never did care for pie”. ~ Tenneva Jordan

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26 Denmark, Finland, Italy, Turkey, Australia, and Belgium also celebrate Mother’s Day on the second Sunday of May.

27 Two years after her mother’s death (1907) Anna Jarvis and her friends began a letter-writing campaign to gain the support of influential ministers, businessmen and congressmen in declaring a national Mother’s Day holiday. She felt children often neglected to appreciate their mother enough while the mother was still alive and hoped that Mother’s Day would increase respect for parents and strengthen family bonds.

28 The first Mother’s Day observance in the US was a church service honouring Mrs. Anna Reese Jarvis on May 10, 1908.

29 The traditional US Mother’s Day flower is a carnation, either pink carnations given to mothers to represent love for them, or white carnations worn in respect for those mothers who are no longer living.

30 “The moment a child is born, the mother is also born. She never existed before. The woman existed, but the mother, never. A mother is something absolutely new” – Rajneesh

31 In the USA, by 1911 Mother’s Day was celebrated in almost every state. President Woodrow Wilson, in 1914, made the official announcement proclaiming Mother’s Day as a national holiday that was to be held each year on the 2nd Sunday of May.

32 By then other areas celebrating Mother’s Day included Mexico, Canada, China, Japan, South America and Africa.

33 In Argentina, Mother’s Day falls on the second Sunday in October

34 “Making the decision to have a child is momentous. It is to decide forever to have your heart go walking around outside your body” – Elizabeth Stone

35 The Mother’s Day International Association was incorporated on December 12, 1912, with the purpose of furthering meaningful observations of Mother’s Day.

36 Norway observes Mother’s Day on the second Sunday in February.

37 Lebanon celebrates Mother’s Day on the first day of spring.

38 “My mother was the most beautiful woman I ever saw. All I am I owe to my mother. I attribute all my success in life to the moral, intellectual and physical education I received from her” – George Washington

39 In Serbia, Mother’s Day is called “Materice”, and it is observed two weeks before Christmas. On “Materice” boys and girls tiptoe into their mother’s bedroom very early in the morning and tie her up. When she awakens, she is surprised to find herself all tied up, and she begs the children to untie her, promising to give them little gifts which she has hidden under her pillow.

40 In India, the Hindu people celebrate a ten-day festival called Durga Puja early in October. It is to honour Durga, the Divine Mother. Durga is the most important of all Hindu goddesses in India.

41 “Women’s liberation is just a lot of foolishness. It’s the men who are discriminated against. They can’t bear children. And no one is likely to do anything about that” – Golda Meir

42 In both Spain and Portugal, Mother’s Day is closely linked to the church. The eighth of December is the day that tribute is paid to the Virgin Mary, Mother of Jesus.

43 Mother’s Day in France is celebrated much like a family birthday, and it occurs on the last Sunday in May. The entire extended family gathers around the family dining table for dinner, and at the end of the meal a beautiful cake is presented to the mother.

44 “My mother had a great deal of trouble with me, but I think she enjoyed it” – Mark Twain

45 Sweden also has a family holiday on the last Sunday in May. Shortly before Mother’s Day the Swedish Red Cross sells tiny plastic flowers. The money from these “Mother’s Flowers” is used to give vacations to mothers with many children.

46 “Sooner or later we all quote our mothers” – Bern Williams

47 In Japan, Mother’s Day is celebrated on the second Sunday in May as it is in North America. Exhibits of pictures, drawn by children between the ages of six and fourteen and called “My Mother”, are entered into a “travelling exhibit.” This exhibit is held every four years, and it travels to many different countries. By looking at the pictures, boys and girls learn how children live in other parts of the world.

48 “A mother is she who can take the place of all others but whose place no one else can take” – Cardinal Mermillod

49 In a revival of a ceremony dating from Tudor times, young people still receive flowers and Simnel cakes at a service in the Chapel Royal at the Tower of London. In Tudor England, daughters would also decorate their mother’s homes with violets, primroses, daffodils and other spring flowers. They would often prepare egg custard, comfits, lambs’ tails, white sugar sweets, fig pies and wafers, and give their mothers nosegays of wild flowers that had been blessed in church.

50 “Mothers all want their sons to grow up to be president, but they don’t want them to become politicians in the process” – John Fitzgerald Kennedy