Welcome to my blog, where I take pleasure in words and pictures, be they my own or those of others. I'm a creative individual, and the crafty side I explore on my 'other blog', Picking Up The Threads, which I hope you'll visit too. I'm sure you understand that I have sole copyright of my original work and any of my contributions, so please ask if you want to use them. A polite request is rarely refused. So, as they used to say on the BBC's 'Listen With Mother' radio programme, many years ago: "Are you sitting comfortably? Then we'll begin."

Sunday, 30 March 2014

Happy Simnel Sunday

Today is Mothering Sunday or Simnel Sunday. The fourth Sunday in Lent. Unfortunately it is rarely called that these days. Instead, it has become Mothers’ Day, and it is getting harder to find a card with the correct wording. My family have always made an effort to send me a card for Mothering Sunday and here are a few from my treasure box, including today's.

When my brother and I were young, in the 1940s and 50s it was the tradition to go to church, present your mother with a bunch of violets and possibly a box of chocolates, and generally make a fuss. It was her day to rest and be pampered, perhaps with breakfast in bed, a special Sunday dinner and other treats, and be showered with love and affection. Violets seemed to figure in card designs too. and below are the youthful efforts of my brother and me. At least I know the hanging one with the antiquated language is mine, but I’m not so sure about the other one.

Of course the best cards  are the personalised ones. such as these which show how my grandchildren have grown.

And these made by my own children at various stages in their lives.

The origins of Mothering Sunday go back centuries in the Christian calendar, to a time when people would return to the Mother Church or Cathedral. This was to go ‘a-mothering’. In more recent times, young people living away from home or in service, would be given time off to attend their mother's church and take her flowers. Eventually the day became more secular and these days is often celebrated in the same way as Mother’s Days in Europe and the USA.

I don’t think many people will be baking Simnel Cake today either, and it is more likely to be associated with Holy Week. The cake has been known since medieval times, when it would be eaten in the middle of Lent, on ‘Refreshment Sunday’ when the forty day fast would be relaxed. Again, the cake was often baked as a gift for children to take to their mothers on this day, Mothering Sunday.  Simnel is a light fruit cake with two layers of marzipan and toasted marzipan balls on top. An Easter convention is that there should be only eleven balls as Judas, the disciple who betrayed Jesus, is not represented.

Charles Causley, one of my favourite poets, wrote ‘Tomorrow is Simnel Sunday’ and it appears in my treasured copy of Collected Poems for Children’.

Tomorrow is Simnel Sunday
And homeward I shall steer 
And I must bake a Simnel Cake 
For my mother dear.

I’ll fetch me almonds, cherries,
The finest in the land,
I’ll fetch me salt, I’ll fetch me spice,
I’ll fetch me marzipan.

With milk and eggs and butter
And flour as fair as snow
And raisins sweet and candied treat
I’ll set it all to go.

And I shall search for violets
That scent the homeward way
For tomorrow is Simnel Sunday
And it is Mothering Day.

A very Happy Mothering Sunday, Simnel Sunday or Refreshment Sunday, to all mothers wherever you may be.


  1. Oh dear almost every year I decide to look up the recipe for Simnel cake so I can bake one, but I never do. :(

  2. I've been holding on to cards from the children, though sadly none from my childhood. Always insist they're homemade - this year my eldest wrote me the most lovely letter. Definitely a keeper! You've such a great collection, I do like the bee one. Interesting to read about the origins of Mothering Sunday too, not something I knew about, but I do know Simnel cake. Love anything with marzipan.

  3. This just heartfelt in so many ways! I am so impressed with this celebration as well!

  4. I welcome every opportunity to eat marzipan!

  5. Hello:

    This is an absolutely delightful post in so, so many different ways. We love how you have treasured the cards you have received, and some you made, over the years, each one a token of very real love and affection. What is more, how splendid that you should make reference to the origins of the particular Sunday just past; too often these things are completely lost.

    It is years since we tasted Simnel cake. So delicious.

    Thank you for a post which has brought us huge pleasure and joy.

  6. Rather touching post. Thank Goodness there is another with similar sentimentality! Treasured are the hand made cards and somewhat strange poems!


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