The tradition of giving flowers and other gifts to our mothers this Sunday is wonderful. My own mother expects to receive a “proper” Mothering Sunday card - it must have the words “Mothering Sunday” on, and not “Mother’s Day”. This firmly links the festival to the Church and less to the commercial activities surrounding it.
The origins of Mothering Sunday go way back into antiquity. It was originally a pagan festival, held in honour of the Mother goddess Cybele. After Constantine converted to Christianity, the Roman Empire began to celebrate it as a Christian Festival, honouring the Blessed Virgin Mary and Mother Church. Mary, the mother of Jesus is a model of good motherhood, standing by Jesus throughout his life and at his death as he fulfilled God’s work of redemption.
During the 16th-century, it was the custom that domestic servants were given the day off so that they could go home and see their own mothers. If lucky, they would pick flowers from the hedgerows along the way to give to them. Often it was the only day of the year when families could come together. It really is a poignant and thought-provoking Sunday to celebrate in the midst of our Lent austerities and Covid restrictions.
Sadly, our churches remain closed at this time, so we are unable to have the formal celebration of the Eucharist or distribute posies to mothers. Yet we can all use this time to celebrate the love of our mothers and carers who have loved us and stood by us throughout the years. It is also a time to give thanks to God for Mother Church, formed out of the sacrifice of Jesus on the cross. Mother Church is where we should find comfort and support, encouragement, love and hospitality. When we open again, let’s be sure to celebrate with thankful hearts.