These cakes were eaten in Great Britain at Mid-Lent to commemorate the Banquet given by Joseph to his brothers, which comes from the 1st Lesson of Evensong for that day. The usage of these cakes is evidently one of great antiquity. It appears from one of the Epigrams of the poet Herrick that, at the beginning of the 17th century, it was the custom at Gloucester for young people to carry Simnels to their mothers on Mid-Lent or Mothering Sunday. The whole family went to church together and afterwards there was a dinner of roast lamb or veal, at which the mother was treated as queen of the feast and everything possible was done to make the day memorable for her.
Celebrating Mothering Sunday
Mothering Sunday originates from England and is always celebrated on the fourth Sunday of Lent in honor of Mary, the mother of Christ.
Since the date of this festival falls half way between Shrove Tuesday and Good Friday in the middle of Lent, Mothering Sunday is also called Mid-Lent Sunday. As the day of Lent and Easter varies every year, so also does the day of Mothering Sunday.
Mothering Sunday was also known as Refreshment Sunday because the fasting rules for Lent were relaxed on that day. Simnel Cake is a special food associated with Mothering Sunday.