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  • Cathryn Elsey

Mothers Day

Today (Sunday March 26th 2017) we celebrate Mother's Day. But how many people really know the origin of that celebration? I dare say that few of the youngest people will know the answer.

Centuries ago when Christianity came to Britain, churches would be built mainly in large towns. Everyone was expected to go to church, a full days' journey for many. With an increase of ordained clergy it was possible to build some smaller churches known as daughter churches or chapels of ease. Which made for much more regular attendance at church. However the leaders of the church decreed that everyone must attend their Mother Church on the fourth Sunday of lent. (Cleckheaton's mother church would be Birstall Parish Church)

On that day servant girls and boys would be allowed to go hoe to go to their own mother church. On their way home girls may have gathered wild flowers to take home for mother, possibly boys would carve or make something to take home as well. Which probably started the custom of taking presents to mother on that day. It was possibly the only day in the year they would be able to go home.

Precious to the building of churches with only a scattering of ordained clergy, who would travel from village to village, which meant it could be years between visits from an ordained clergyman.

In this part of the country at least a couple would declare to the headmen in the village their intention to marry asking their permission. The couple would then take possession, or build a house for themselves, then holding hands they would in front of the whole village jump over a brush into their new hoe declaring their intention. This was known as living over the brush.

It was not unusual at that time for a clergyman to marry a couple and baptise at least two of their children.

Burials would take place in the corner of a field dedicated and blessed on a previous visit, any new graves would be blessed by the clergyman during his stay in the village.

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