"As far back as medieval times there was a relaxation of austerities on the fourth Sunday of Lent. This day was also set aside for priests to visit the Mother Church of the district, and for laity to return to the church where they had been baptised. Serving girls and boys, hired at Michaelmas Fairs, were allowed this one day's holiday half-way through their year's service to visit their homes. It became customary for employers to bake a 'simnel' cake for the mother, perhaps hoping that the good deed would bring luck to themselves." (All Year Round)
Rose Sunday is also called Laetare Sunday, taken from the opening prayer of today's Mass which begins "Laetare Jerusalem!" or "Rejoice, Jerusalem!" On this day we break our solemn Lenten mood and take joy in the very nearness of Easter. Rose Sunday is known for the clergy's rose-colored vestments and the altar which is adorned with rose-colored banners; there is also the tradition of the golden blessed rose ...
"Once this day was called Refreshment Sunday, or Sunday of the Golden Rose, because on this day the Holy Father blesses the Golden Rose, a beautiful ornament of gold and jewels containing a receptacle holding balsam and powdered musk. The Pope prays that the Church may show forth the fruit of good works and 'the perfume of the Flower sprung from the root of Jesse.'" (Source, Catholic Culture)
In England this day is also known as Mothering Sunday, as described in the first quote. Simnel cake is the traditional food of the day, but I was reading in A Book of Feasts and Seasons that Egg Custard, so rich with ingredients once forbidden during Lent, is also a fitting food for the day.
I smiled when I read this because egg custard is a favorite dish in my family. My own mother makes sweet and creamy custards for her mother, my grandmother, on a regular basis. They are not only delicious, but very filling and nutritious for her.
Mum brings the ingredients to Grandma's house and prepares the custards there, visiting with Gram as they cook. While she's there she takes care of this or that, chatting and catching up. My grandmother spent her life caring for so many others in this way - I am truly blessed to learn from two such beautiful mothers. For what could be more nourishing than to see to someone's needs, not just for food, but for friendship? Add some eggs and a dash of vanilla and what you have is a bowlful of love. :)
Mum's Egg Custard
- 4 eggs
- 1 tsp. vanilla (or more, to taste)
- 1/4 - 1/3 cup sugar (again, to taste)
- 3 cups whole milk
- a bit of flavored syrup (see note)
Set oven to 325 degrees. Beat the eggs with a whisk, then stir in the vanilla and sugar. Whisk well. Gradually add milk, beating well until all ingredients are incorporated. Fill baking dish (or dishes) with custard. (You can use any size dishes you'd like - individual ramekins or one larger dish.) Set dish(es) in a larger pan (such as a 9x13 Pyrex dish). Make sure the custard dishes are not touching each other or the sides of your larger pan. Set pan with custards on oven rack. Pour warm water into baking dish approximately 1/3 of the way up the sides of the custard dishes. Bake for one hour. Remove from water bath and let cool on rack. Can be eaten cold, but they are oh-so-good warm from the oven ... and that smell!
(*Note: My mum sometimes pours some a flavored syrup into the custard dishes before filling with egg mixture - maple, blueberry or apricot for example. Just a teaspoon or so.)
I think we have a new Rose Sunday tradition ... Have a wonderful Sunday, everyone!