Mothering Sunday is a day of mixed emotions and means something different to each of us. For some it is a day of celebration and for others it is a day of sadness as we say a prayer of thanksgiving for those mums we have loved and lost.

But do you know how Mothers Day began?

Mothering Sunday, as it officially known, began, not as some people think, as a celebration of Mary the mother of Jesus by the early church, but in the 1600’s. At the time, Christianity was the fastest growing faith in Europe and it was a day when servants, apprentices, farm labourers, girls in service and those who lived at the houses of their employers, were given a special day off to return home to their ‘mother church’. They believed that the spiritual connection from doing this would sustain their faith for the year to come.

Mothering Sunday always falls on the 4th Sunday of Lent and it was deliberately introduced in the middle of the Lent so that families could have a break from their Lenten fast and share a celebration meal with those returning home.

An interesting and popular ceremony called ‘church clipping’ took place on Mothering Sunday when people would express their love for their ‘mother’ church by forming a circle and walking round the building holding hands and then tightly grip the church building or pews as an expression of coming home. Those who returned home would present their tithes/offerings to their mother church.

During the early part of the 20th Century, as English culture began to be influenced by American culture, we took on their traditional Mother’s Day celebration and, following the Second World War, blended Mothering Sunday with the Mother’s Day celebration and people began honouring their mothers instead of the church – although it still continues to be celebrated on the 4th Sunday of Lent.

A Special Prayer for Mothering Sunday 

Heavenly Father,
We thank you for our Mothers.
We remember today their loving care and their ceaseless love.
May we show them by our gifts,
Our words and our actions
That we love them and care about them too.

Heavenly Father,
We thank you for the family of the church. 
We thank you for those who are Mothers within our church family. 

May they know your blessing and strength as they care for others.

In the precious name of Jesus we pray. 


With my very best wishes for a blessed, and memorable, Mothering Sunday celebration.