Today is Mothering Sunday in the UK.

Mother's day basket.

The image for this beautiful basket of flowers comes from

http://www.rays.floristblog.co.uk

My post today is all about Mothering Sunday, as this is the date we celebrate that event in the UK.

Demeter_rejoiced,_for_her_daughter_was_by_her_side

The very earliest celebrations of Mothering Sunday are linked to pre-Christian traditions of the festivals celebrating the arrival of Spring and the first flowers. One of these being return of Persephone from her time with Hades in the darkness of the underworld, and the joy of Demeter to see her daughter again. This happiness brought the land once more to life and the blossoms of Spring bloomed. I have always loved that story.

As the centuries passed the celebration of Mother’s Day altered as so many other calander events have done. Now, sons and daughters present their mothers with gifts of flowers, or other things they know will be valued. This is one of those times where families try to get together. They visit and chat, have a meal together and enjoy the celebration.

  In the late 18th and early 19th century when so many young women worked ‘in service’ and lived away from the family home, girls were allowed a rare day off, to return to visit their mothers, bearing gifts. Each girl would take her mother flowers and a Simnel cake.

Simnel Cake

Click the image to find Mary Berry’s recipie for Simnel cake.

The quality of the gifts the girl took home reflected the esteem with which her employers held her, as they were usually the benfactors providing the ingredients for the scrumptious Simnel.

I have to say this delightful little tale of marital disharmony made me laugh as it tells of how the Simnel cake was invented. This story comes from http://www.legendarydartmoor.co.uk

The fasting season of Lent was just ending, but they had still left some of the unleavened dough, which had been from time to time converted into bread during the forty days. Nelly was a careful woman, and it grieved her to waste anything, so she suggested that they should use the remains of the Lenten dough for the basis of a cake to regale the assembled family. Simon readily agreed to the proposal, and further reminded his partner that there were still some remains of their Christmas plum pudding hoarded up in the cupboard, and that this might form the interior, and be an agreeable surprise to the young people when they had made their way through the less tasty crust. So far, all things went on harmoniously ; but when the cake was made, a subject of violent discord arose, Sim insisting that it should be boiled, while Nell no less obstinately contended that it should be baked. The dispute ran from words to blows, for Nell, not choosing to let her province in the household be thus interfered with, jumped up, and threw the stool she was sitting on at Sim, who on his part seized a besom, and applied it with right good will to the head and shoulders of his spouse. She now seized the broom, and the battle became so warm, that it might have had a very serious result, had not Nell proposed as a compromise that the cake should be boiled first, and afterwards baked. This Sim acceded to, for he had no wish for further acquaintance with the heavy end of the broom. Accordingly, the big pot was set on the fire, and the stool broken up and thrown on to boil it, whilst the besom and broom furnished fuel for the oven. Some eggs, which had been broken in the scuffle, were used to coat the outside of the pudding when boiled, which gave it the shining gloss it possesses as a cake. This new and remarkable production in the art of confectionery became known by the name of the cake of Simon and Nelly, but soon only the first half of each name was alone preserved and joined together, and it has ever since been known as the cake of Sim-Nel, or Simnel.’

Thanks for reading

Daisy Banks.

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6 thoughts on “Today is Mothering Sunday in the UK.

  1. That story is definitely one for the record books, Daisy! I’d never even heard of a Simnel cake before, but I don’t think I’ll ever forget how it came into being now, LOL. Great look back at the history of Mother’s Day, too. And as it turns out one of my CPs is working on a novel involving Persephone, Hades, and Demeter right now. Enjoy your Sunday!

    • Thanks for commenting, Mae. The Simnel story is from the Dartmouth site, a lovely place and I do try to credit it. However, there are other English towns who
      also claim firsts on the Simnel. To be honest I don’t think anyone actually knows. I loved this story because it is so non PC. The characters are raw and I could see
      them.

  2. Thank you for an interesting and lovely post!
    It was so funny how Simon and Nelly after agreeing on the way the cake is to be prepared they put on the fire their”weapons” too.
    Here we celebrate Mother’s day on 8th March, the same day with Women’s day.
    Happy Mothering Day, Daisy!

  3. I looked at that recipe and I’ll be picking my cake up at the bakery! LOL. What a lovely little history lesson! thanks, Daisy, loved it!.

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