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Celebrating Mother’s Day

An assembly from the Culham St Gabriel archive

Suitable for Whole School (Pri)


To consider the tradition of having a special day for mothers in the Church’s year.

Preparation and materials

  • Have available a small posy of spring flowers and a Mother’s Day card.

  • You will also need a simnel cake (a fruit cake with a layer of marzipan on top and 11 little marzipan ball decorations, representing the apostles minus Judas).

    Alternatively, have available an image of a simnel cake and the means to display it during the assembly. An example is available at:

  • Have available a recording of ‘Spring’ from The Four Seasons by Vivaldi and the means to play it at the end of the assembly. A version is available on YouTube at: (42.00 minutes long in total)


  1. Ask the children to think about two days when we eat special things. Examples could include Shrove Tuesday/Pancake Day, Easter Sunday, birthdays and Christmas.

  2. This year, Pancake Day is on 13 February and Easter Day is on 1 April. The period between these two dates is called Lent. There is a traditional cake called simnel cake that is associated with Easter Sunday. These cakes are often seen in the shops at this time of year.

  3. Show the simnel cake or the image of it.

    Ask the children, ‘
    Why would there be a special cake associated with Easter?’

    Explain that to find out, we have to go back in history to the days when many young girls left home to go into domestic service, which means that they became servants, doing the cooking, cleaning and so on for wealthy households. Some of them were not much older than when children today start high school! These children didn’t get home very much, so seeing their families was a really special time.

  4. One occasion when the children were allowed home was in the middle of Lent. Lent is the season of nearly six weeks before Easter. It starts on Ash Wednesday (the day after Pancake Day, or Shrove Tuesday as it is also called) and ends on Easter Sunday.

  5. During Lent, people remember the time when Jesus went into the wilderness to think about his life. He had a hard time there and was often hungry, so his followers have tried to keep Lent as a time when they lead simple lives. Sometimes, they give something up, do something special for other people or try to lead a better life themselves.

  6. Halfway through Lent comes Mother’s Day, a day when everyone is allowed to relax and enjoy themselves.

    Hundreds of years ago, people celebrated by ‘clipping the church’, a ceremony in which people clasped hands in a great ring around the church and walked around it to show how much they loved it.

    In Victorian days and before, the young servant girls would be given the day off to go and show their love for their families by giving their mothers a day free of work and bringing them presents. Simnel cake was one of those presents. In the north of England, fig pies were the traditional present. The girls took spring flowers, too, tied up into little posies or nosegays, which were blessed in church before being presented.

    Show the small posy and the cake (or the image of it).

  7. So, we can see that Mother’s Day was a joyful day for everyone and an important time in the year, especially for people in country areas. Today, we still remember Mother’s Day and, although it’s more likely to be with a card and some chocolates or flowers than with a simnel cake, the love and appreciation that we show for our mothers remain the same.

    Show the Mother’s Day card.

Time for reflection

For those we love.
Thank you, Lord.
For those who love us.
Thank you, Lord.
For times when we feel peaceful.
Thank you, Lord.
For times when we feel content.
Thank you, Lord.
For times of refreshment and hope.
Thank you, Lord.


‘Spring’ from The Four Seasons by Vivaldi

Follow-up ideas

  • Make a fig pie or simnel cake and let the children taste it. If facilities permit, the children could make some to take home to their families. There are lots of simnel cake recipes available, but not so many for fig pie, so a recipe for fig pie is provided below.

    Fig pie

    Pastry case
    300 g dried or fresh figs (if using dried figs, soak them overnight beforehand in 200 ml water with 2 tsp lemon juice)
    1 tbsp cornflour
    ½ tsp ground mixed spice
    25 g currants
    2 tsp black treacle or golden syrup

    1. Preheat the oven to 200°C (400°F).

    2. If you are using fresh figs, cut off the stalks and chop the figs. Place the chopped figs in a saucepan with just enough water to cover, and then cook until tender (from 5 to 10 minutes, depending on ripeness). For dried figs, cook them in the soaking water.

    3. Drain the figs, reserving 300 ml of the liquid, topping up with hot water if necessary. Pour a little of this liquid into a small bowl, add the cornflour and mix until smooth and creamy. Gradually add and stir the cornflour mixture into the reserved liquid.

    4. Return the mixture to the saucepan and stir over a medium heat until it has thickened. Cook for 2 more minutes, mixing in the ground mixed spice, currants and treacle or syrup, and then take the pan off the heat.

    5. Spread the figs over the base of the pastry case, and then pour the sauce over them, distributing the currants evenly.

    6. Bake in the preheated oven for 30–35 minutes until golden brown.

  • Talk about the different people who are important to us and what we do to show them that we love them. Each child could make an illustrated card or write a poem for someone he/she loves.

  • What do the children know about the lives of young children in the Victorian era, and about the lives of their parents? What might have been different about being a mother – or child – then and now?

  • Read the story of Jesus in the wilderness (Matthew 4.1–11). What do the children think he felt like while he was there?
Publication date: March 2018   (Vol.20 No.3)    Published by SPCK, London, UK.
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