Mother’s Day, or Mothering Sunday as it is known in the UK, is a lovely British festival and is not based on the commercially chosen and based day as it is in North America and many other countries, but originates from the Christian calendar, where girls in service (and boys too) were allowed the day off to visit their “mother church”. The idea soon became linked with visiting your family, with mum’s taking the centre spot for this spring festival.
The idea of treating mothers with cake and flowers took root when during the 17th and early 18th centuries. You were allowed to bake a cake (traditionally a Simnel Cake) using ingredients from the kitchens where you worked, to take home with you as part of Refreshment Sunday – a day where fasting was relaxed for one day in memory of Jesus feeding the five thousand. The flowers associated with this lovely day are thought to originate from the young girls picking wayside flowers as they made their way home to their mother parish and families.
Whatever the origins of this special day, it is true to say that cake and flowers still play an important part of this special day for our mums. Whereas the Simnel Cake is now associated with Easter, it is in fact the original “Mothering Sunday” cake, and was often decorated with flowers in place of the little marzipan balls that are now added on the Easter version, said to represent the 11 apostles, minus Judas Iscariot, and is a rich and decadent cake filled with fruit and a marzipan layer through the middle of the cake, as well as the top.
To celebrate Mothering Sunday this year, I have decided to make my mum her favourite cake, a Lemon Drizzle Cake, decorated with crystallised violets and other edible flowers, namely daisies. Other edible spring flowers that would make a lovely finish are primroses, violas and pansies. A lemon drizzle cake is always popular on the tea time table and makes a change from all the chocolates that your mum might have been given. This is an easy recipe that dads can whip up in the kitchen with the children, and then they can all have fun with the floral décor, as well as the washing up for the day too!