Mary Kemp:

Mary Kemp steps out of the kitchen this month to re­call her mem­o­ries of Moth­er­ing Sun­day

EDP Norfolk - - INSIDE - Mary Kemp

Mary’s Moth­er­ing Sun­day mem­o­ries

It’s Moth­er­ing Sun­day at the end of March and although no one is ab­so­lutely cer­tain where or when the idea of Moth­er­ing Sun­day be­gan, it’s a day that has been cel­e­brated on the fourth Sun­day of Lent ever since the 16th cen­tury.

The an­cient Greeks cel­e­brated the fes­ti­val of Cy­bele, a great mother of Greek gods, while the Ro­mans also had a hol­i­day, Ma­trona­lia, which was ded­i­cated to Juno, on the same day and moth­ers were usu­ally given gifts.

But this mid-Lent Sun­day, as it was known, was also called Re­fresh­ment Sun­day. Although Chris­tians were en­cour­aged to fast through­out Lent, this was a day when the fast­ing rules were re­laxed and ev­ery­one made a point of vis­it­ing their near­est big church, the mother church or cathe­dral. Those who did this would say they had ‘gone a moth­er­ing’.

So sig­nif­i­cant was this day that those work­ing in ser­vice or servi­tude were given the day off and, as ev­ery­one trav­elled to the largest church in an area, most fam­i­lies would be re­united at least once ev­ery year, mak­ing it a spe­cial day and fam­ily event. Sim­nel cakes would be made and en­joyed for this cel­e­bra­tion day. And so it con­tin­ued to the present day, although it’s a day when its sig­nif­i­cance changes as you grow older and as your role in life changes.

When we were chil­dren, Moth­er­ing Sun­day didn’t seem as com­mer­cialised as it does now. Homemade cards al­ways had pic­tures of daf­fodils, tulips or prim­roses. Hav­ing been taught to draw flow­ers at school in a slightly me­chan­i­cal way, and with a bit of in­spi­ra­tion from Blue Pe­ter, we’d make cards of prim­roses which would be cir­cles of heart shapes all joined to­gether, or daf­fodils made up of frilly-edged tri­an­gles all grow­ing out of a ran­dom col­lec­tion of leaves. My mother still has many of them tucked safely into her old cook­ery books.

Ev­ery year we were hap­pily dis­patched to pick prim­roses, aconites or snow­drops, de­pend­ing on how early or late Moth­er­ing Sun­day fell. There were cer­tain ditches and wood­lands on the farm we knew would be full of prim­roses and cowslips and the added bonus of wa­ter at the bot­tom of ditch meant we would gather the flow­ers and re­turn home with bas­kets full and cov­ered in mud!

Miss Gray, our teacher at Wren­ing­ham pri­mary school, would, with a team of will­ing helpers from the vil­lage, mirac­u­lously turn these ran­dom col­lec­tions of flow­ers into small posies for the Moth­er­ing Sun­day ser­vice, when all the chil­dren in church would go to col­lect a small bunch of flow­ers from the vicar to give their moth­ers.

Many years on I still re­mem­ber that feel­ing of de­light as we sat clutch­ing that small bunch of flow­ers, wrapped so ex­pertly in wet tis­sue then cov­ered in tin­foil so they didn’t leak. Of­ten slightly bat­tered by the time we re­turned home, our posies would still have pride of place in the kitchen.

As I write this, snow is fore­cast, but I hope spring is just around the cor­ner. On Sun­day, March 31, I look for­ward to catch­ing up with mum, my chil­dren and my grand­chil­dren, and maybe the odd posy of spring flow­ers will be in a jam jar on the win­dowsill just as it was in my child­hood.

Find out more about Mary Kemp’s cook­ery the­atres, demon­stra­tions and more recipes at

ABOVE:Prim­roses, a spring favourite for Mother’s Day

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