Mother's Day, this year, will fall on May 12. Are you aware, though, that Mothering Day will occur on March 10 ~ next Sunday? Mother's Day and Mothering Day are not the same thing. The latter holiday provides the topic of this post.
Mothering Day was one of the holidays that would have been celebrated primarily by Roman Catholics during the Colonial Period in the colonies and provinces of the fledgling United States of America. Despite the fact that it has fallen out of favor in the U.S. over the past two centuries, Mothering Day is a holiday still celebrated in parts of the United Kingdom.
On the Roman Catholic liturgical calendar, the fourth Sunday in Lent was given the formal name of Laetare Sunday; it was intended to be a day set aside to honor the Virgin Mary. The name Laetare was derived from Latin meaning 'rejoice'. Laetare Sunday became known as Mid-Lent Sunday because it falls within the Lenten Season (i.e. the fourth Sunday in Lent). The original custom practiced on this holiday was for parishioners to visit their mother church (i.e. the pioneering or mission church in the region) and to make offerings there.
As time went on, the custom of visiting the mother church and giving her offerings evolved into children visiting their own parents, and giving them gifts. In the U.S., this day set aside for honoring parents together evolved into two holidays: a special day set aside for honoring mothers, and a special day set aside for honoring fathers. To separate them yet further from this original holiday in Lent, the new Mother's Day was pushed ahead to the second Sunday in May, and the new Father's Day was moved to the third Sunday in June.
But to return to Mothering Day:
Although Mothering Day was established as a Roman Catholic holiday, it was probably celebrated by many Protestants in the early days of the United States, because even they paid special honor to the pioneering church of their own particular denominations.