Mothering Sunday and How it all Began

Mothers come in all shapes and sizes and we love them just as they are and for the many wonderful things they do for us, and whilst it feels entirely right that they should have their own special Sunday it's not how it all began. We need to go back to the 16th Century when on the 4th Sunday in Lent, people would return to their ‘mother’ church which would have been their own local church or cathedral and in doing this, they were said to have gone ‘a-mothering’. Later Mothering Sunday evolved into a day when domestic servants were given the day off to visit their home church, thus seeing their own mothers and family members and extending the meaning of Mothering Sunday to include actual mothers. It became a day for families when spring flowers were presented, and Mothering Buns and Simnel Cake enjoyed for tea despite it being Lent.

Over the years Mothering Sunday has gradually become known as Mother’s Day and the change began when Anna Jarvis in the United States held a memorial to honour her mother and all mothers. In response to this and by popular request, in 1914 President Woodrow Wilson made the second Sunday in May the official date for celebrating Mother’s Day in the US. Here in the UK Constance Penswick-Smith felt inspired to start her own movement on behalf of mothers called the Mothering Sunday Movement which gathered momentum during WW2 when Canadian and American soldiers were stationed here. By the 1950s Mother’s Day was celebrated all across the UK.


Are there traditional flowers for Mother's Day?

There are many favourites such as carnations, lilies, sweet peas and roses but originally Mother's Day flowers would have been simple stems, gathered from banks and hedgerows. There is a proverb, featured above, that says, 'He who goes a-mothering finds violets in the lane' and in many churches, children were given posies of violets to give to their mothers on Mothering Sunday. (Archives & Collections @ The Library of Birmingham)


Roses are very popular and are somehow synonymous with mothers. Think of a rose or catch it's fragrance on the breeze and we remember our mothers or grandmothers. Roses are wistful and romantic and they fill us with nostalgia for times and places we may never even have known.  They're soft and scented, bold and beautiful and they're strong, withstanding drought and storms. Pink roses are a favourite on Mother's Day as they represent femininity and elegance as well as admiration, respect and appreciation. White roses are for purity and innocence like the unconditional love our mothers give, and cream for charm and thoughtfulness. You can't really go wrong with roses on Mother's Day whatever colour you choose.



Rose Bushes

Rose bushes are also a favourite for Mother's Day. As gifts, they provide poignant and lasting reminders of people one loves and those who love us. There is kindness and thought in the choosing of a rose and so much pleasure gained in the planting, the nurture and the eventual reward of blooms.



Where are The Real Flower Company's Mother's Day roses grown?

The English rose season starts in May so for Mother’s Day our scented garden roses are grown on our sister farm, Tambuzi in Kenya. Tambuzi is a Fairtrade flower farm and thanks to its perfect climate and natural water supply it can grow roses throughout the year to the highest possible eco and social standards. The roses are sent over to the UK using excess space in passenger planes so they have a carbon footprint that’s a mere one-sixth of Dutch imports. Scented beauties such as soft, pink Prince Jardinier, creamy Vitality and hot pink Lolita will soon be winging their way from the western foothills of Mount Kenya to our London shops and Hampshire farm for the florists to work their magic for Mother's Day.


Sweet Peas

Sweet Peas are also a favourite. Darlings of the English country garden they're fresh and beautiful and make you smile. They have a simplicity and natural beauty which endear them to the nation and their fragrance is sublime. Our glass houses in Chichester produce magnificent sweet peas but we've been a little short of sunshine so far this year and we think they might not be ready in time for Mother's Day. We just need a few warm, sunny days to get things going but none seem to be forthcoming and so far we have many, many green stems and shoots but few flowers. Fingers crossed though as you never know with the British weather.



English Narcissi are the song of springtime, bringing a sense of joy and celebration after winter. This small glass bud vase filled with stems of Narcissi is just the right size for little hands to hold on Mother's Day or for something bigger there is our yellow and white English Narcissi in a white Burleigh hooped jug. Very little arranging is required for either of these which could be a bonus on this special Sunday when things might not be quite as usual.