Mother’s Day gifts and traditions through history.

What do Mother’s Day gifts and traditions look like in 2023

Mother’s Day gifts and traditions still look very similar to the original 17th and 18th Century religious holiday in the UK. But as  Mothering Sunday and church attendance declined, around the 1950s, into the gap stepped the official revival of Mother’s Day as more of a commercial enterprise. Mother’s Day became more aligned with the American celebration of Mother’s Day and although the UK kept its official day of Refreshment Sunday three weeks before Easter the day itself became a reason to buy cards, gifts, and treats to show your appreciation to the person who mothered you.

Has anything changed in the last 70 years to make Mother’s Day different from that first 1950s American influence?

The comforting news is that the gifts that were popular then are pretty much the same now, but from a 2023 perspective, many have a growing desire to move away from mass manufacture and to show more responsibility with their purchases. We are more thoughtful about the need for biodegradable packaging, and sustainable ingredients and mindful of supporting small handmade businesses that offer quality personal items. We care about the ability to trace the trail of manufacture and value transparency and trust in our purchases.

It seems we are enjoying more time with our families and if we have children, a handmade card and a fist full of dandelions will always win over some more impersonal gift. It’s all thankfully still about cards, gifts, flowers, family, and cake!


Where does Mother’s Day come from?

I’m sure a form of Mother’s Day was celebrated in pagan pre-history, but our Mother’s Day story starts nestled within the celebration of Lent in the 17th-century Catholic church. Lent is a religious observance commemorating the 40 days Jesus spent fasting in the desert. A time of penance and reflection culminating in Easter, a festival celebrating the resurrection of Jesus. Bear with me, it gets prettier…

The Hellebore has become associated with Lent having the nickname Lenten Rose, so called because of its long 40-day flowering period. I gather hellebores in the Smallgarden every spring,  dry and press them, turning them into keepsakes and greeting cards.

Visit this page for a selection of handmade dried flower cards.

Hellebore-Lenten-Rose--traditional- dried-pressed-flower-card

Going a’mothering, celebrating motherhood in the 1700’s

Three weeks before Easter was a day that everyone must have looked forward to. The strict observances were relaxed and there was a bit of a treat. This Sunday was called Refreshment Sunday or Rose Sunday, the priests swapped their violet vestments and wore pink and the villagers stuffed their faces. No, not really, but maybe they had a lump of cheese with their bread or an egg.

But this welcome break was still not about honouring your own mother, but about motherhood in all its diverse forms and more specifically the mother church. Day off or not, you would have to visit the church of your baptism or the nearest cathedral.

Mothering Sunday, Spring flowers, and cake.

Moving into Victorian times, young girls in service and indentured apprentice boys were given ‘Mothering Sunday’ as a day off to visit their mothers. Here we have a lovely romantic view of children of all sizes skipping their way home through sunny country lanes collecting hedgerow spring flowers to take home to Mother.

And mother? Meanwhile, mother is busy in the kitchen with a shiny blacked range making a simnel cake and glancing through her lead paned window, ready to welcome the children when they arrive. It was Refreshment Sunday and if she could afford it she would decorate the cake with a marzipan speckled thrush and her spotted clutch of eggs.

The simnel cake has its origins in a medieval leavened bread that was really made with just a fine white flour, simnel derives from the latin simila which means finest and whitest flour. In the 17th and 18th centuries it would be boiled like a pudding where fruit and almonds started to appear and began to look cake like in the Victorian era. It eventually lost its  popularity as a Mothering Sunday cake and has become associated with Easter.

simnel-cake-with-fresh-picked-spring-flowers-for-mothers day

She may or may not have done a better job than me, but I just had to have a go! This was a Nigella Lawson recipe. If you fancy having a go at a vegan or gluten free simnel cake visit this lovely recipe.

Mother’s Day arrives!

Mother’s day this year is on March 19th and leaving the religious beginning far behind it’s largely all about the gifts that you can pamper your loved one with. Flowers, chocolates, and thoughtful cards are still top of the list but self care, bodycare and skincare are all becoming much more popular gifts for Mother’s Day.

This makes sense as who doesn’t like to receive an aromatherapy based quality soap or luxurious body butter or care for their hair knowing they are reducing plastic landfill.

Your skin is your body’s largest organ and is largely self regulating, self healing and self moisturising. Where we come in is to help protect our skin from drying out and destroying our skins natural barrier.  Did you know that the entire surface area of your skin makes up 2 square metres and of that only about 5 % is  the skin which covers your face and your neck?  Time to address the other 95%! With that in mind a luxury handmade gift/pamper box would be the ideal selfcare gift for Mother’s Day.

What items would be suitable to include in a pamper box?

Some ideas could include – 

And for a special  Mother’s day gift please

click here