Why is fruit cake synonymous with Mothers’ Day?

Why is fruit cake synonymous with Mothers’ Day?

While modern-day mother's day gifts include chocolates, perfume, flowers, and gift cards, there is another tasty treat that's been a Mothering Sunday tradition since Tudor times: fruit cake.

If you're curious about what links moist and moreish fruit cake to the annual celebration of maternal figures, read on.

When is Mother's Day in the UK?

If you can't remember when Mother's Day is, don’t worry. Unlike birthdays, anniversaries, and Christmas bank holidays, it actually falls on a different day every year.

Mother’s Day is always three weeks before Easter (on the fourth Sunday of Lent). However, because the dates for Easter change depending on the Lunar calendar, the day we celebrate Mother's Day each year also changes.

In 2023, Mother's Day falls on Sunday 19th March in the UK.

What's the connection between Mother's Day and fruit cake?

Mother's Day hasn't always been an annual celebration of mums.

Back in Tudor times, 'Mothering Sunday' was a Christian custom where people were given time off work to return to their hometown and visit their mother church (e.g. the venue where they were baptised).

Writing in his journal in 1644, Royalist Officer Richard Symonds described this annual reunion of family members as 'when all the children and godchildren meet at the head and chief of the family and have a feast.'

Tradition dictated that the 'Mothering-Day' feast included a fruit cake known as a simnel cake.

What is simnel cake?

Good Housekeeping describes simnel cake as a spiced fruit cake topped with marzipan that was traditionally baked to celebrate Mother's Day.

Simnel Cake

The cake is decorated with 11 marzipan balls that represent Jesus's disciples (minus Judas who betrayed Jesus). The word 'simnel' is believed to be derived from the Latin word 'simila', which means fine wheat flour.

With 'Mothering Sunday' falling during the period of Lent, simnel cake offered a flavoursome respite for those observing the 40 days of fasting.

However, not everyone immediately recognised simnel cake as a tasty treat back in Tudor times. It's reported that one lady was so bemused by the cake's thickness that she mistook it for a footstall!

Want to treat someone special this Mother's Day?

Nothing says “I love you” like a freshly baked fruitcake from Grandpa’s.

“Our daughter gave us one of your simnel cakes which we found to be delicious. Lovely and moist. Would have loved to have kept it a bit longer but it was too tempting and soon disappeared.” John 

Fruit Cake

Our delicious range of simnel cakes and fruit cakes will satisfy every cake lover's cravings on Mother's Day, Father's Day, or any day.

After all, who doesn't love a cup of tea and a slice of cake?


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