Mothering Sunday is a holiday celebrated by Catholic and Protestant Christians in some parts of Europe. It falls on the fourth Sunday in Lent, exactly three weeks before Easter. (For Orthodox Christians in Europe and elsewhere, the fourth Sunday in Lent remembers St. John of the Ladder (St. John Climacus).) Once observed as a day on which people would visit their “mother” church, it has become an occasion for honouring the mothers of children and giving them presents. It is increasingly being called Mothers’ Day, although that has always been a secular event quite different from the original Mothering Sunday. In the UK and the Republic of Ireland, Mothering Sunday is celebrated in the same way as Mothers’ Day is celebrated elsewhere.
During the 16th century, people returned to their mother church, the main church or cathedral of the area, for a service to be held on Laetare Sunday. This was either the church where they were baptised, or the local parish church, or more often the nearest cathedral. Anyone who did this was commonly said to have gone “a-mothering”, although whether this term preceded the observance of Mothering Sunday is unclear. In later times, Mothering Sunday became a day when domestic servants were given a day off to visit their mother church, usually with their own mothers and other family members. It was often the only time that whole families could gather together, since on other days they were prevented by conflicting working hours, and servants were not given free days on other occasions. source: Wikipedia