Monday, March 23, 2009

Mothering Sunday

Yesterday was Mothering Sunday in England, and I was treated to a lovely lunch at The Boathouse at The Beetle and Wedge. It was a gorgeous day and we really enjoyed eating our lunch at this gem of a place on the edge of the Thames.

Our in-laws discovered The Boathouse quite by accident one day years ago when driving through the Berkshire countryside so when we moved down here in 2007, we sought it out. Since then, we have had a number of delicious meals here. A lot of their food is cooked over coals on an amazing indoor grill, right in the restaurant. Yesterday we watched as the chef cooked a beautiful piece of lemon sole over the flames for the 21st Century Husband and the 21st Century Teenager’s steak was also cooked this way. I had roasted salmon on a bed of spinach, which was cooked in the kitchen by another chef. All our dishes were delicious. We were not disappointed by our starters either - from the 21st Century Husband’s Seafood Soup, served with croutons and cheese to my skewer of grilled Tiger Prawns, everything was delicious. The desserts were just amazing too. Afterwards we wandered down the banks of the Thames for a little bit, taking in the lovely weather and gorgeous scenery.

It always seems slightly odd to me having Mother’s Day in March as coming from North America I was used to celebrating this day in May. When my Mom was alive, I used to send her cards on both occasions and flowers on the day in May. The reason we celebrate Mothering Sunday in March in England is based on two historic traditions. One was that a day in March was the only day young people in service were given as holiday to go and visit their mothers. As they walked through the fields on their way home, they would gather flowers from the hedgerows to present to their mothers when they arrived. There was also the old tradition of returning, on the middle Sunday in Lent (almost always in March) to one’s Mother Church - either the church attended as a child or the main cathedral in the area where you lived.

For some odd reason, the British media and even some ordinary folk here often make fun of the idea of Mother’s Day being in May in North America and also of its more secular origins. Of course, people in North America - all of us immigrants at one time or another, would have had difficulty returning to their “mother church” without a long and dangerous journey across the seas, so that tradition was pretty much dispensed with, making the choice of another day - in much finer weather later in the year - a lot more sensible.

I don’t think it matters when you celebrate the day to be honest, but it is very nice to have a special day just to say thank you to your mum (or mom!) and treat her to something nice - or to remember her if she is no longer with you. I must admit I did burst into tears at lunch yesterday as the lady who walked into the restaurant in front of us on her zimmer frame (walker) looked very similar to how I remember my own Mom in later years - plus she was wearing a navy jacket almost identical to one my Mom had.

Here in England, more and more people are referring to Mothers’ special day as Mother’s Day instead of Mothering Sunday, partly as our society becomes more secular and also as we are influenced more and more by the wider world. I do find it ironic that the media insist on portraying Mother’s Day in May as so much a secular - and somehow second best -holiday, in a country where actually church attendance is much lower than in North America. I’m pretty sure there were more bums on seats in church pews yesterday in any province in Canada or state in the US than there were in the United Kingdom - even though people who rarely attend church here often do so on Mothering Sunday. I think it’s time as countries that we all started accepting each other’s Mother’s Day traditions and just let each other get on with it. Does it really matter in this day and age if the holiday is secular or not, provided everyone can celebrate it as they wish to? I don’t it matters at all, and I’m a church goer, so there! It’s not like it is Christmas or Easter for heaven’s sake.

Whatever we call it or however we celebrate, how wonderful to have a day where we can thank those who mean so much to us and treat them to something special in return for everything they have done for us. Here’s to mothers the world over - those that are here and those who have gone - and to those of us who are mothers now for everything we are and everything we do.

“Being a mother is the hardest job on earth. Women everywhere must declare it so.” Oprah Winfrey

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