Mothers Day in Scotland

Mothers Day or "Mothering Sunday" is celebrated on the fourth Sunday of Lent (exactly three weeks before Easter Sunday) in Scotland and the rest of the UK.

It is believed to have originated from the 16th century Christian practice where youngsters were forced to work away from their families, but allowed once a year to see their Mother and attend church with the rest of the family. It is believed that the young apprentices lads and young lassies (often about 10 years old) who were in service were given this time off by their bosses or 'masters' for that one weekend in order to visit their families.

Another custom seems to have been that although people went to their local church where they were living - it was seen that they should attend the 'mother church' or their family church and this coincided with the time they were given off work to visit their Mothers.

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Over the years Mothers Day has just become a time celebrate and give thanks for Mothers (and Grandmothers). These days cards and gifts are given and it's a time to 'spoil' Mum as a way of thanking her for all she does for the family.

The gifts given are often flowers or chocolates and some schools encourage the children to make cards and/or gifts for their Mums. Some young folk take it upon themselves to start Mothers' Day by giving their Mum breakfast in bed. This can range from a cup of tea and toast to a full-blown cooked breakfast. The cards and usually a small vase of flowers might be put on the breakfast tray.

Many Churches still celebrate Mothering Sunday - and supply daffodils or other spring flowers for the children to present to their Mothers.

Mothers Day is also a time when families might go out for dinner together and most restaurants cash in on this and put on a Special Menu. Indeed you usually have to book to get a table. Adult children may treat their Mothers to something a bit more special from jewellery to a weekend in a Hotel or perhaps another more luxurious gift.

If the family can't afford to go out, perhaps the older children or/and Dad might make a special meal at home. It may interest you to know that the Simnel Cake which is now served at Easter actually used to be served as a tradition on Mothering Sunday - but that doesn't seem to be the case anymore.

Menu for Mothers Day Dinner

I've chosen a very simple, everyday meal of cottage pie followed by rhubarb crumble and custard; and if my memory serves me right, it could have been the first meal that I ever cooked for my family. I would have been about 10 years old and my Mum had just come out of hospital and I wanted to make a Mothers Day Meal. I had helped her make this in the past and felt confident I could do it on my own. I haven't included a 'starter' as we never ate 3 courses in those days.

Cottage Pie


1lb/450gm Minced lamb
1½lb/700gm Potatoes
1 Large finely chopped onion
2oz/50g Sliced mushrooms
1 Bay leaf
2 Carrots diced into small pieces
1oz/25g Plain flour
1 tbs Tomato paste
1oz/25g Butter
4tbs Milk
1½pt beef stock
2oz/50g Cheese


  • Gently fry the beef using no added fat with the carrots, mushrooms, onion & bay leaf for 8-10 minutes.
  • Mix the flour and stirring constantly for about about a minute.
  • Carefully add in the stock and tomato paste.
  • Gently cook, stirring all the time until the mixture thickens and comes to the boil, adjust the heat as appropriate.
  • Put on lid and simmer gently for around 25 minutes.
  • Remove the bay leaf and place in a large oven-proof serving dish.

  • Drain & mash with the butter and milk.
  • Add salt and fresh black pepper (to taste).
  • Spread on top of the meat.
  • Add the grated cheese over the potatoes.

Bake for 15-20 minutes in a pre-heated oven at 400f/200F/Gas 6.
Serve hot with vegetables.

Mothers Day 1 Cottage Pie

Rhubarb Crumble


1lb/450g rhubarb
45-50ml water
Juice of 1 lemon
2oz/50g caster sugar
teaspoon mixed spice

Crumble Top
2oz/ounces plain flour
1oz/25g rolled oats
1 tsp mixed spice
2oz/50g butter
2oz/50g soft brown sugar


  • Chop the rhubarb into pieces.
  • Add all other filling ingredients and stir.
  • Simmer on the stove for 5 minutes.
  • Transfer an oven-proof pie dish.

  • Sift the flour into a large mixing bowl and rub in the butter till it looks like small breadcrumbs.
  • Add the remaining ingredients and mix well.
  • Spread the crumble evenly over the rhubarb.
  • Bake in a pre-heated oven at 200C/400F/Gas Mark 6 for 30 minutes till golden brown.
  • Serve hot with custard (or ice cream).

Mothers Day2 Rhubarb Crumble and Custard

If you've enjoyed looking at this page on Mothers Day, have a look also at
Valentine's Day in Scotland - Look at how we celebrate Valentine's Day in Scotland
Valentine's Day Meal - This is a menu I chose to cook for my husband on Valentine's Day
Traditional Scottish Christmas - Discover some of the traditions we have at Christmas time
Mothers' Day - A simple menu of Cottage Pie followed by rhubarb crumble.
Christmas Cake - Do try this recipe for a traditional Christmas cake.
Hogmanay Customs - S some of delightful traditions we have to bring in the New Year
Burns Supper - Learn about the piping in of the haggis and other traditions we have for celebrating Burns Night

Scottish Recipes - Have a read of this page and be sure to try out some of the Scottish Recipes.

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