Here’s an extract from my feast days article in the March edition of Tudor Life magazine:
Mothering Sunday is the fourth Sunday in Lent and so, like Palm Sunday, Easter etc. is a moveable feast. Although I have never found any reference to it in 16th century records, Steve Roud in The English Year points out that it is mentioned in Robert Herrick’s 17th century collection of poems, Hesperides (1648):
I’ll to thee a simnell bring
Gainst thou go’st a mothering.
And in Richard Symonds’ diary from 1644:
“Every mid-Lent Sunday is a great day in Worcester, when all the children and god-children meet at the head and chief of the family and have a feast. They call it the Mothering-day.”
So it was definitely celebrated by the mid 17th century.
In the UK today many churches will celebrate by giving out flowers to the women of the congregation and it really is a lovely tradition. I realise, of course, that it’s not a happy day for everyone and my thoughts are with those who have lost mothers or children.
Anne Boleyn was, of course, a mother and you can read more about her as a mother in my article Anne Boleyn, mother of Elizabeth I.