Sunday, 15 March 2015

Mothering Sunday

Grumble, grumble, grumble.

In the Middle Ages a parish church was a piece of property.  It generated revenue.  There was a constant stream of tithes and payments to this church.  In the darker days of the history of the church a barely literate placeholder (vicar means, though a long route, working in the place of someone else, vicarious has come through the same route) went through the service by rote for a subsistence wage and most of the money went to the local lord of the manor.  Even worse, the barely literate place holder who could not properly read and certainly was not fit to preach could be standing in for a rich bishop or abbot.

As the population expanded, particularly in the twelfth and thirteenth centuries, and the energetic work of the monks and friars reached more and more outlying places, more churches were built.  However, when a new church was built it meant that all the fees for the funerals and wills and confessions (marriage in church was not usual until a lot, lot later) were suddenly lost to the church that had previously had charge of that area, and nobody wanted to lose money.  However it was plainly wrong that in the days of muddy tracks and no transport someone would have to travel thirty or forty miles to hear the Word of God.

A deal was struck.  A new church would be founded, so that the serfs and cottars could hear mass, and once a year on the fourth Sunday in Lent the congregation of the New Church would take the loot back to the 'Mother Church'.  Incidentally, the Lent fast was relaxed on this day, so meat, milk and eggs could be eaten.  They probably needed a good feed for the journey.

As people became more mobile this became the Sunday that a servant would have leave to go and visit their Mother Church, though it was a good chance to call in on their family and bring their mother a nice present to show how well they were doing.  After the Reformation when the whole 'Mother Church' thing disappeared, it was much more about visiting the family.  And it was a lovely tradition.  Then Hallmark found it.

It's always been about money.

(Bear has been, of course, wonderfully and I made sure he knew how ecstically grateful I was.  And I am, he is the light of my life and any cuddle is a wonderful thing.)

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