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Mothering Sunday is a tradition that dates back to at least the 16th century. People would visit their "mother church" either a cathedral or large local church and people were often permitted to travel to the mother church of the place where they were baptised.

However, my question is how did this tradition arise? Is there a basis for it in church doctrine? Did it start as a folk-movement or was it introduced into the church calendar? What are the origins of this Christian festival?

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The Free Online Encyclopedia has the following, quoted without the references:

Mothering Sunday
March-April; fourth Sunday in Lent
It was the custom in 17th-century England for Christians to pay their respects on the fourth Sunday in Lent to the "Mother Church" where they had been baptized. Also known as Misers, or Mid-Lent, Sunday, this day usually included a visit to one's parents—to "go a-mothering," as it was called back then. It was common practice to bring a cake or trinket for the mother of the family. In England the favorite gift was the simnel cake, a saffron-flavored fruitcake topped with almond paste. In the Roman Catholic Church and the Anglican Communion, the fourth Sunday in Lent is known as Laetare Sunday . The Introit of the Mass begins with the word "Rejoice" (laetare in Latin), marking a slight respite in the solemn Lenten season, hence the terms Mid-Lent Sunday and Refreshment Sunday . Priests may wear rose-colored vestments to mass, instead of the usual purple for Lent, so the day is also called Rose Sunday. Also on this day the pope blesses the Golden Rose, an ornament resembling a spray of roses, symbolizing spiritual joy.


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