Mothering Sunday is a two fold celebration. The first and most known is that young girls, in particular, who were in service away from home, were given the day off once a year to visit their mothers. They usually picked a bunch of wild flowers on their way, and were often given a small cake or some beef dripping or some other item from the kitchens to take as a present. Any present or card should be home-made (they had no money to buy things).
The true origins of Mothering Sunday actually goes back much further and deeper than that, though. To explain more clearly than I can, I found this description on the BBC web site.
History of Mothering SundayMost Sundays in the year churchgoers in England worship at their nearest parish or 'daughter church'.
Centuries ago it was considered important for people to return to their home or 'mother' church once a year. So each year in the middle of Lent, everyone would visit their 'mother' church - the main church or cathedral of the area.
Inevitably the return to the 'mother' church became an occasion for family reunions when children who were working away returned home. (It was quite common in those days for children to leave home for work once they were ten years old.)
And most historians think that it was the return to the 'Mother' church which led to the tradition of children, particularly those working as domestic servants, or as apprentices, being given the day off to visit their mother and family.
As they walked along the country lanes, children would pick wild flowers or violets to take to church or give to their mother as a small gift.
When I was a child, we always went back to Walsall, which was where we were born and go to the main church, before visiting my grandparents and my great aunt with a gift of a pot of primroses - real ones not the brightly coloured primulas, and a card. Once I was married, both mothers would get a pot of proper primroses and a card, and sometime we would all have a meal together. This was before I got into card making so they were bought, but we always search the shops until we found a card that said Mothering Sunday. Our children were brought up with that wording too and taught what the real meaning is.
Having got that off my chest, I must get back into the kitchen and put the bread in the oven. To all of you out there who are mothers, I will say "Happy Mothering Sunday"