Simnel Cake and Mothering Sunday

My dear chums, I must say, it's high time we clear up some confusion surrounding Mother's Day and Mothering Sunday - brace yourselves, as I'm about to drop some earth-shattering knowledge. Would you believe it if I told you that these two events are not, in fact, the same thing? That's right, old bean - Mothering Sunday is actually a Christian holiday celebrated by many denominations across Europe, and it always falls on Lent's fourth Sunday.

So, how did this jolly celebration come to be? Before the Reformation, (the start of Protestantism and the split of the Western Church into Protestantism and the Roman Catholic Church) Mothering Sunday was a religious holiday where people would visit their "mother church" and was not necessarily associated with gift-giving. However, there were also earlier traditions on the same day of "going a-mothering" where people would visit and bring gifts to their mothers. These gifts often included Simnel cakes and wildflower posies.

The origins of these traditions are not entirely clear, but they may have pagan roots related to the celebration of spring and birth. It's interesting to note that the original Simnel cake had a marzipan plait round the top, rather than the 11 balls representing the apostles that are seen in modern Easter cakes. The cake may have been appropriated by the Church or by Americans, who celebrate Mother's Day on the second Sunday in May.

Regardless of the specifics, it's clear that showing appreciation for mothers has been a longstanding tradition in many cultures. So why not continue the tradition and bake a delicious Simnel cake or create a beautiful wildflower posy for your mum this Mothering Sunday? And if you're feeling extra generous, why not celebrate Mother's Day as well by treating your mum to some delicious goodies, like our delightful Mother's Day cakes?


Here’s Mary Berry’s fabulous recipe guaranteed to amaze!

But, if you’re too lazy, you could always buy one and pass it off as your own - John Lewis does a gorgeous-looking Simnel cake by Cartwright & Butler which comes in equally delightful tin.

Simnel Cake Cartwright & Butler

Go on guys, get baking! And if you’re looking for inspiration for Mother's Sunday gifts, you could always check out Anges de Sucre Mother's Day Cake collection.

1 Response



March 09, 2021

Wrong! You’re right about the religious festival (Mothering Sunday) re visiting the Mother Church pre-Reformation, but prior to that, ‘going a-mothering’ was an earlier tradition on the same day when Simnel cake & wild flower posies were given to mothers. Origins could be pagan…. respect for mothers and rites of Spring and birth. Simnel cake originally had a marzipan plait round the top (not balls), and flowers, though designs varied. The cake was plagerised by either the Church (cos it had pagan origins?) or the Americans into an Easter cake with the balls representing the Apostles. Mothers’ Day is an American celebration on the 2nd Sunday in May.
see ‘British Folk Customs’ by Christina Hole or other publications on the subject.
I get so annoyed by the American interpretations of our English customs!!!

Leave a comment (all fields required)

Comments will be approved before showing up.