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Mothering Sunday,Britain’s Mother’s Day

For many Americans, that special day in the middle of May set aside for the adulation of mothers is often the catalyst for a strong emotion: Panic.

You don’t have a card, you thought it was next week, the flowers will never make it on time. … How, you wonder, did this holiday come to be?

In the U.S., Mother’s Day falls on the second Sunday in May, or May 14 this year. It began in the 1870s as a day to honor moms and promote peace in post-Civil War days, but in England it has a more religious background.

According to the BBC’s religion archive, Mother’s Day here began as Mothering Sunday, the fourth Sunday of Lent, which this year was March 26.

In the olden days, it became a tradition for children working as domestic servants to take this day off to visit their mother and extended family.

Going back even further, it relates to an expectation that English churchgoers visit their hometown or “mother” church once a year.

Thus, heading home to worship at one’s mother church eventually became a trip back to see Mom during Lent (celebrated in March) — and has morphed into the annual scramble for a card and bouquet that English citizens enjoy today.

Got a question about something you’ve seen or heard around the United Kingdom? E-mail us at: uknews@mail.estripes.osd.mil

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