OPINION: The true meaning of Mothering Sunday | Newcastle Herald


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OPINION: The true meaning of Mothering Sunday | Newcastle Herald

OPINION: The true meaning of Mothering Sunday | Newcastle Herald

comment, opinion

THERE are two historical strands behind this celebration. The earliest, “Mid-lenting” was a Medieval custom in England. Then it became “Mothering Sunday”, celebrated on the fourth Sunday (the middle Sunday) of Lent, leading up to Easter. Easter being a moveable date, the date of “Mothering Sunday” was also variable. Lent is the traditional Christian period from Ash Wednesday to Easter Eve, the 40 weekdays commemorating Jesus Christ during his wilderness temptations, and it became a time to express certain disciplines of self-denial and penitence. There was indeed, as Christianity spread throughout Europe, an honouring of “Mother Church” for the spiritual blessings it offered people. However, over time the church festival blended with the “Mothering Sunday” and people began honouring their mothers as well as the church. In the Middle Ages, young people living away from home tried to visit their parents with gifts and flowers on Mid-Lent or “Mothering Sunday”, and the mother baked an especially rich, dark, ornamental “simnel” cake for the occasion. The cakes might even be decorated with wildflowers gathered by the sons and daughters. The second historical background stems from the US. It started in 1907 when Anna Jarvis of Philadelphia felt that once a year children should pay a worthy tribute to their mothers. She persuaded her mother’s church in Grafton, West Virginia, to celebrate a “Mother’s Day” on the second Sunday in May 1905, the second anniversary of her mother’s death. She asked that white carnations be worn by those attending. Anna felt that such a day would increase respect for parents and strengthen family ties. In four years it sparked popular interest and spread to almost every American State. In 1912 a Mother’s Day Association was founded to foster the celebration. It is popular now in the US, with gifts for mothers and the wearing of white flowers by the motherless and red flowers by others. The observance has spread to many other lands, including ours, and we have followed the American date of the second Sunday in May. It is indeed a worthy celebration to recognise a precious relationship and express a personal gratitude to our mothers for their love and sacrifice during our growing years. There is an old Jewish saying that ‘‘Because God could not be everywhere, he made mothers’’ and many of us thank God for our Mothers; I certainly do for mine, to whom I owe so much! Mothers truly have the capacity to mould a nation as they influence their children and invest so many years into their growth and preparation for their own adult years. They first bear them, and then care for them in their formative years, and finally – in cricketing terms – they declare as they relinquish their immediate and intimate responsibility. Mother-love of course must never be “smother-love”. Having said that however, as many of us who have families know, a mother never stops “being a mother” to her children even after they have left the nest. Incidentally, that goes for fathers too, and I am personally glad that Australians also celebrate a “Father’s Day” – but that’s another story!

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THERE are two historical strands behind this celebration. The earliest, “Mid-lenting” was a Medieval custom in England. Then it became “Mothering Sunday”, celebrated on the fourth Sunday (the middle Sunday) of Lent, leading up to Easter. Easter being a moveable date, the date of “Mothering Sunday” was also variable.

Lent is the traditional Christian period from Ash Wednesday to Easter Eve, the 40 weekdays commemorating Jesus Christ during his wilderness temptations, and it became a time to express certain disciplines of self-denial and penitence. There was indeed, as Christianity spread throughout Europe, an honouring of “Mother Church” for the spiritual blessings it offered people. However, over time the church festival blended with the “Mothering Sunday” and people began honouring their mothers as well as the church.

In the Middle Ages, young people living away from home tried to visit their parents with gifts and flowers on Mid-Lent or “Mothering Sunday”, and the mother baked an especially rich, dark, ornamental “simnel” cake for the occasion. The cakes might even be decorated with wildflowers gathered by the sons and daughters.

The second historical background stems from the US. It started in 1907 when Anna Jarvis of Philadelphia felt that once a year children should pay a worthy tribute to their mothers. She persuaded her mother’s church in Grafton, West Virginia, to celebrate a “Mother’s Day” on the second Sunday in May 1905, the second anniversary of her mother’s death. She asked that white carnations be worn by those attending.

Anna felt that such a day would increase respect for parents and strengthen family ties. In four years it sparked popular interest and spread to almost every American State. In 1912 a Mother’s Day Association was founded to foster the celebration.

It is popular now in the US, with gifts for mothers and the wearing of white flowers by the motherless and red flowers by others.

The observance has spread to many other lands, including ours, and we have followed the American date of the second Sunday in May. It is indeed a worthy celebration to recognise a precious relationship and express a personal gratitude to our mothers for their love and sacrifice during our growing years.

There is an old Jewish saying that ‘‘Because God could not be everywhere, he made mothers’’ and many of us thank God for our Mothers; I certainly do for mine, to whom I owe so much! Mothers truly have the capacity to mould a nation as they influence their children and invest so many years into their growth and preparation for their own adult years. They first bear them, and then care for them in their formative years, and finally – in cricketing terms – they declare as they relinquish their immediate and intimate responsibility.

Mother-love of course must never be “smother-love”. Having said that however, as many of us who have families know, a mother never stops “being a mother” to her children even after they have left the nest. Incidentally, that goes for fathers too, and I am personally glad that Australians also celebrate a “Father’s Day” – but that’s another story!

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