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Mothering Sunday is a time when children pay respect to their mothers, often giving them a gift and a card as a thank you for all their love and care throughout the year. It is not a fixed day because it is always the fourth Sunday in Lent. This means that it will fall on different dates each year and while it normally falls in March, it could be in April. In 2018, Mothering Sunday is on March 11th.

Most Sundays in the year people worship at their nearest parish or ‘daughter’ church. But centuries ago it was considered important for people to return to their home or 'mother' church once a year. So in the middle of Lent, everyone would visit their mother church - the main church or Cathedral of the area. Thus the return to the mother church became an occasion for family reunions when children who were working away returned home. Mothering Sunday also became known as ‘Refreshment Sunday’, when the rules for Lent could be relaxed in remembrance of the Feeding of the Five Thousand story in the Bible.


Historians think that it was the return to the mother church which led to the tradition of children, particularly those working as domestic servants or apprentices, being given the day off to visit their mother and family. It was quite common in those days for children to leave home to go to work as young as ten years old! As they walked along the country lanes, children would pick wild flowers to take to church or give to their mother. Sometimes the housekeeper or cook would allow the maids to bake a cake to take home. The most popular was Simnel cake, a fruit cake with a flat layer of marzipan on the top and decorated with 11 marzipan balls (representing the 12 apostles minus Judas, who betrayed Jesus).

These days Simnel cake is sometimes eaten at Easter instead. If you would like to make a Simnel cake for Mother’s day, you can find a recipe below.


Mother's Day is also a celebration honouring mothers and the influence of mothers in society. It is celebrated on various days in many parts of the world, most commonly on the second Sunday in May. It complements Father's Day, a celebration honouring fathers. However, Mother's Day is an American invention, and it is not directly descended from the Christian Mothering Sunday celebration. Despite this, in some countries the two have become synonymous.

The modern holiday of Mother's Day was first celebrated in 1908, when Anna Jarvis held a memorial for her mother in America. She then began a campaign to make Mother's Day a recognised holiday in the United States. Although she was successful in 1914, she was already disappointed with its commercialisation by the 1920s. Jarvis' holiday was adopted by other countries and it is now celebrated in many countries: each person offers a gift, card, or remembrance toward their mothers, grandmothers, and/or maternal figure.


Don’t forget to ask Dad or another adult before attempting any cooking. You will probably need to buy some ingredients, and you must be very careful when using a hot oven and grill.

This is what you need:

175 g butter
175 g light soft brown sugar
3 eggs
225 g flour
300g dried fruit - mixture of currants, sultanas and raisins
50 g glace cherries, chopped
50 g mixed chopped peel
Zest of 1 orange & 1 lemon
1 level teaspoon mixed spice
500 g marzipan
2 tablespoons jam, sieved and warmed
Decorations such as dried or sugar flowers, ribbon

This is what you do:

1. Grease an 18 cm round cake tin and line with greaseproof paper.

2. Beat together the butter and the sugar until light and fluffy.

3. Add the beaten eggs, a little at a time.

4. Fold in the flour and the spice and stir in the fruit. Spoon half the mixture into the prepared tin and level with a spoon.

5. Roll out 200 grams of the marzipan to an 18cm circle and place on top of the cake mix in the tin.

6. Cover with the remaining cake mix and bake at 150o for 1½ to 2 hours. Let the cake cool in the tin for 10 minutes before turning out onto a wire rack to cool completely.

7. Roll out 200 grams of marzipan to an 18cm circle.  Brush the cake with a little jam and place marzipan on top.

8. Use the remaining marzipan to make 11 balls. Arrange these in a circle around the edge of the cake.

9. Place the cake under the grill to brown the marzipan. TAKE CARE: THE MARZIPAN BURNS EASILY! Leave to cool.

10. Tie a ribbon around the outside of the cake and add decorations if desired.

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