At the Bloomsbury Ephemera Fair today you could see books, ephemera, maps, prints, posters, postcards, photographs but looking for unusual printed items related to Mother’s Day could bring a new perspective on Mother’s day. An old leaflet signed by C Penswick Smith ( Constance Adelaide Smith signing under her pen name), promoting Mothering Sunday takes us back to the simnel cake’s days, when children were bringing calorie-dense food to hungry parents.
The story of Mother’s day is about two women who never experienced motherhood: Anna Jervis, who organised the first celebration in 1908 in Virginia, US, after her mother’s death and Constance Adelaide Smith who, inspired by Anna, campaigned to bring back its medieval British traditions.
“A printed card means nothing except you are too lazy to write to the woman who has done more for you than anyone in the world” Anna Jarvis said while campaigning against the commercial turn of her initial idea of Mother’s day.
With a 1,8 billion spending last year, only 60% of the UK population celebrated with an average of £58 per individual. Unlike the USA where $6.9 billion were paid online and another staggering $2.6 billion on flowers alone, the UK population was more conservative with their gifts but our children emptied the shelves and paid £50 million on cards, 260 million on flowers and 1,8 billion on experiences like personal services at a spa, to celebrate their mothers.
The medieval simnel cake had become a saffron-hued fruitcake decorated with marzipan in 19th Century, and perhaps it is cupcake in Brexit times…
Happy days are fewer around, and celebrating today is not exclusive to those who experienced motherhood, but for all of us who are grateful for the unconditional love that comes with it!