Good Things Can Come in Threes…

Today is Sunday, March 26, and I have three things to crow about…

First, today is Mother’s Day in the UK, a day when I get lots of nice prezzies. This date doesn’t coincide with Mother’s Day in other countries around the world, but in Britain (in case anyone didn’t know!) we’re sticklers for tradition. And our Mother’s Day – or as it was  originally called, ‘Mothering Sunday’ – originated several hundred years ago and has gradually evolved to become what it is today, with Mums getting cards and gifts ranging from flowers, chocolates or meals out and so on…

I wrote a post about the history of Mothers’ Day two years ago, and retweeted it last year. It would probably be pushing things a bit to retweet it again but a link to the original post can be found here.


The second thing I’m happy about is that today the clocks have moved forward an hour, putting us into British Summer Time (BST). From October to March we’re on Greenwich Mean Time (GMT). In the UK the clocks go forward at 1 am on the last Sunday of March – which, from what I’ve seen on other people’s blogs, is a week or so later than in the US – or, at least, in some areas of the US.

Moving the clocks forward means a lot to me because I loathe the long, dark nights of winter and now daylight lasts an extra hour every evening! Yippee! It does mean that mornings stay dark an hour longer, but that gradually adjusts over the next few weeks. Naturally, in contrast, I whinge and moan every October when we move the clocks back and evenings get dark an hour earlier. Then it’s boo-hoo time!

Many people remember whether clocks move forward or back with this little saying, which I believe came to the UK from ‘across the pond’: Spring forward, fall back.

This is interesting because we haven’t called autumn “fall” in the UK for a few hundred years. Apparently, the word travelled to America with the early settlers and stuck, whereas its use eventually changed to autumn here. According to this site the use of the word was first found in print in 1545 in an archery instruction manual by Queen Elizabeth’s tutor Roger Ascham, who refers to autumn as faule of the leafe. 

I don’t intend to write about the reasons behind the moving backwards and forwards of clocks, other than to say it involves daylight saving time (DST) and its use has interesting origins. Perhaps I’ll write about that next year.


My third thing to be happy about today is my latest review of Shadow of the Raven on Amazon UK. I confess, I haven’t read any books by Giles Kristian, so that’s something I’ll do as soon as I finish Book 3 of my trilogy. This is the review, which I’ve just copied from Amazon. I’ve no idea who Catherine is, but I’m very grateful for her lovely review.

5.0 out of 5 stars Great Read.

By catherine stelfox on 21 Mar. 2017

 Format: Kindle Edition

Well written with fabulous characterisation. I would even go so far as to say that Milli Thom is very nearly up there with Giles Kristian: Strong praise indeed. I’m eagerly looking forward to reading the next two books in the series.
Millie Thom makes every action lend weight and meaning to the story. That the author knows her subject well shows in her attention to detail.
All this contributes in making this book a thrilling reading experience, and my delight in finding a new author who can provide my ongoing cravings for a Viking fix is to be celebrated.


Lovely spring… Who wouldn’t be happy at this time of year?

Happy Mother’s day


It’s early morning and I’m enjoying some peace and quiet before my tribe of six offspring (plus partners and grandchildren) invade for Sunday/Mother’s Day lunch. We tend to spend Mother’s Day here, at our house, because we have the biggest dining table for seating everyone. Besides, I love to cook for them all. I’m also looking forward to receiving my selection of lovely cards, flowers, chocolates and whatever other knick-knacks they decide I might like this year. I’ve never asked it of them, but I sincerely appreciate all that they bring. It’s like Christmas all over again. And to think, my birthday’s less than a month away, too.

Well, today I thought I’d have a think about what Mother’s day actually involves in the U.K. and how it originated. I won’t delve into how the celebration started in the U.S. in 1908 – which, I believe, is celebrated in May. There’ll undoubtedly be plenty of American bloggers to do that when the time comes. The actual term Mother’s Day, which stems from the American celebration, has now been adopted in many parts of the world and is usually celebrated either in March or May.

Here in the U.K. Mother’s Day is celebrated on the fourth Sunday of Lent, so the date varies from year to year, depending on the dates of Lent (in turn dependent upon the date of Easter). It was observed as early as the 16th Century, when it was known as Mothering Sunday. This was a time when people returned to the ‘mother church’ – the main church or cathedral in the area – for a special service called Laetare. The day was one of relaxation from normal Lenten observations; a day of hope with Easter being at last within sight.

Mothering Sunday was often the only time when the whole families could be together due to conflicting working hours on other days. Children and young people ‘in service’, as household servants, were given the day off to visit their families. Children often picked wild flowers on the way, either to put in church or give to their mothers. So eventually the tradition evolved into the giving of gifts to mothers.

But Mothering Sunday was by no means a new idea, even in the 16th Century. Celebrations of mothers and motherhood can be traced back to the ancient Greeks and Romans, who held festivals in honour of the mother goddesses Rhea and Cybele.

In the U.K. today, Mothering Sunday is known by the American term of Mother’s Day, as it is in most countries where the Day is celebrated. Many gifts are given to mothers, including the traditional flowers. Chocolates are also still popular, but a variety of other gifts are given as well. Unfortunately, as is to be expected, the cost of flowers rises dramatically as the special day approaches.
Flower stall on Cheapside, London, displaying flowers for sale before Mother’s Day. Wikimedia Common. Attribution: Kate Jewell

In the early days, Mothering Sunday was also known as Refreshment Sunday because the fasting rules for Lent were relaxed for that day. The special food item associated with the Day was Simnel cake – a fruit cake with two layers of almond paste (marzipan) one on top and one in the middle. It is made with eleven balls of marzipan on top, representing the eleven disciples. (Judas is not included.) Traditionally, sugar violets would also be added.

Simnel Cake. Both images: Wikimedia Commons. Attribution: James Petts, London, England.


The name Simnel probably comes from the Latin word simila, referring to a fine wheat flour usually used for baking cakes. A legend has it 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.

This short poem was written in 1648, by Robert Herricks:

I’ll to thee a Simnel bring

’Gainst thou goes a mothering

So that when she blesseth thee

Half that blessing thou’lt give to me

For me, Mother’s Day is also a day when I remember my own mother and the many Mother’s Days we shared. She passed away in 1998 and I still think of her a lot. But especially on Mother’s Day.