Mother's Day takes place in the UK and Ireland on the fourth Sunday in Lent which usually falls in March. In other parts of the world such as in the United States and Canada, it falls in May.
The history of Mother's Day in the UK is somewhat different. It was initially Mothering Sunday which related to a person's "Mother Church." The tradition of returning home to your Mother Church (the church in which you were baptized) started in the 16th Century and was strictly a religious tradition and had nothing to do with mothers. The return home to the Mother Church was known as 'going a-mothering.' This was an event to look forward to as many workers such as domestic servants had few holidays. But on this day, they were given the day off to return to their mother church where they would visit family as well. This would have often been one of the only times of the year for many to have had the opportunity to do so.
Traditionally, a Sinnel Cake was baked on Mothering Sunday. This cake is a rich fruit cake with layers of marzipan. To keep to the religious purpose of the event, the cake usually has 11 balls of marzipan on top that represent the disciples of Jesus minus Judas. At the earliest time of this tradition, around the year 1600, sweet buns topped with 'hundreds and thousands' called Sunday buns were served in much of England whereas in northern England and Scotland a pancake made from steeped peas fried in butter were served.
At the beginning of the 20th Century, Mothering Sunday was no longer observed. A daughter of a vicar, Constance Penswick-Smith, thought this to be a shame and worked hard at restoring the tradition. She wrote a book on the subject and founded a society with the aim of bringing it back.
She was helped in this regard by an American Anna Jarvis who wanted to create a formal Mother's Day in the USA. UK merchants saw the benefit of this and promoted the idea. By the 1950's 'Mother's Day' was celebrated across the UK but at the same time as Mothering Sunday had been - the fourth Sunday of Lent.
Today families still get together to celebrate mothers and grandmothers. Cards, flowers and chocolates are commonly given to show appreciation and a hearty Sunday roast lunch is widely eaten by many.