Window on UK Culture
Mothering Sunday

When is Mothering Sunday?

Mothering Sunday in the UK is on the fourth Sunday of Lent. Although it's often called "Mothers Day" it has no connection with the American festival of that name.

On which date does Mothering Sunday fall?

As Lent is part of the Easter which follows the Lunar Calendar, there is no set date for Mothering Sunday.

In 2016 it falls on March 6th and in 2017 it is on March 26th

Where does Mothering Sunday come from?


Traditionally, it was a day when children, mainly daughters, who had gone to work as domestic servants were given a day off to visit their mother and family.

Today it is a day when children give presents, flowers, and home made cards to their mothers.

Is there any special food associated with Mothering Sunday?

Yes, the food item especially associated with Mothering Sunday is the Simnel Cake. This is a fruit cake with two layers of almond paste, one on top and one in the middle.

The cake is made with 11 balls of marzipan icing on top representing the 11 disciples. (Judas is not included). Traditionally, sugar violets would also be added.

Why Simnel?

There's a legend that a man called Simon and his wife Nell argued over whether the cake for Mothering Sunday should be baked or boiled. In the end they did both, so the cake was named after both of them: SIM-NELL.



175 g (6 oz) butter 
175 g (6 oz) sugar
3 beaten eggs
225 g (8 oz) plain flour
1/2 tsp grated nutmeg
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
125 g (4 oz) glace cherries
50 g (2 oz) chopped mixed peel
250 g (9 oz) currants
125 g (4 oz) sultanas
450 g (1 lb) almond paste
A little milk if necessary

Cream together the butter and sugar until pale and fluffy. Beat in the eggs slowly.
Fold in the flour and spices.
Add the fruit and fold in.
Add a teaspoon or two of milk if too firm.

Line and grease an 18 cm (7 in) round cake tin.
Roll out half the almond paste to a 16 cm circle.
Spoon half of the cake mixture into the cake tin.
Put the almond paste circle on top of the cake mixture. Then add the rest of the cake mixture.

Bake until dark brown and firm. Once the cake is cool, roll out the rest of the almond paste into an 18 cm circle.
Place the circle on top of the cake and brown quickly under a hot grill.