This year, as Mother’s Day approaches, I have been considering some of things my mother has taught me to love over the years. She had six boys before me, the trailing little girl, the two things I remember her doing the most growing up was cooking and gardening (laundry too!). Cooking was a duty that she learned to find joy in over the years, but gardening has always been her passion. Life is a series of duties and as humans, we discover the most joy when we are able to find passion amidst what is required of us.

While I don't have the same desire to get up early and spend hours in my garden, I am amazed to realize at the wealth of knowledge she dropped like seeds in my mind as I spent time by her side in the garden and kitchen. She taught me the names and meanings of flowers and plants, how to trim a rosebush, which herbs taste best sprinkled into a soup, when to plant and when to pick, and so much more. As an adult these shared interests are the fodder to build and frame our ever evolving relationship through the many seasons of life.

Spring was spent preparing her garden for a summer’s bounty of beauty, nurturing her children alongside her flowers. Her pursuits are rarely solo, as a mother is constantly in demand, and she would often sing or recite poems to keep us entertained as we "helped" in the garden and kitchen.    My mother has always loved the iconic duo Simon & Garfunkel. It was the music of her youth and songs like “Homeward Bound” and “Scarborough Fair” were the nostalgic soundtrack of my childhood.

It wasn’t until just a few years ago that I discovered "Scarborough Fair" wasn’t one of the pair's original songs. It is actually a traditional English folk ballad, named for a fair coastal town of Scarborough, England. I fell in love with this little town one summer as I met (and later married) a Scarborough boy. But that is a tale for another day. 

Among many local, melodic and lyrical variations of the canticle it references a lover's impossible tasks and an eponymous fair held in the English town of Scarborough, North Yorkshire. Centuries of Roman, Saxon and Viking history grew up in a prime trading position on the northern English coast. This ‘Scarborough Fair’ was granted a royal charter in the 13th century and in the preceding centuries the gathering of merchants grew, with desires for entertainment and pleasure seekers leading to more of what we would recognize as a fair in our day.

In the early 17th century, with increasing taxation the popularity of the Scarborough Fair waned and the town slumped back into obscurity. That is until the 19th century when the small coastal town would once again reach national prominence as a Victorian seaside tourist destination. Today however Scarborough once again stands ‘dormant’ a small unassuming town with a rich history.  Even to whom the town naturally flies under the radar its history and its great fair are immortalized and known the world over through the lines:

Are you going to Scarborough Fair?
Parsley, sage, rosemary, and thyme
Remember me to one who lives there
She once was a true love of mine

This particular ballad, has become the inspiration for our mother’s day gift guide for this year. I love how it blends the ideas of a love remembered, an herb garden, a bustling country market, and an auspicious kitchen held together by the stems of parsley, sage, rosemary, and thyme. Our collection is filled with things for the garden and for the kitchen. 

Each of these herbs has a wealth of symbolism, chosen carefully for this song, these herbs were frequently placed in the bridal bouquet of a medieval woman. We love the symbolic nature of these plants and are inspired by these petite herb jewelry pieces as a modern way to incorporate the symbolic strength into your gift giving. 

For the ancient Greeks, and even the Celts, parsley was associated with death. The Greeks feared it but the Celts revered it, as it was meant to help restless spirits find peace.  Parsley was often placed on a dish, to help aid digestion or settle an upset stomach. Symbolically however, it was more profound, this idea that a sprig of parsley was able to remove bitterness from body and soul and leave only peace. If your mother is the consummate peacemaker, give her this parsley necklace.

Sage is the symbol of wisdom and protection. It was often used medicinally, soothe snake bites. It was believed that if you slept with sage under your pillow it would help alleviate sorrows. For a mother that is ever filled with tidbits of wisdom, perhaps this sage necklace or earrings make the perfect gift. 

Rosemary on the other hand is a symbol of love and fidelity. While the herb is distinctly green, when it is boiled, it leaves a rich pink color, which was often used in cloth dyeing. It bleeds red, this beating heart of all the herbs. It is a love to be remembered. Give this rosemary jewelry to a mother whose heart is always overflowing with love.

Thyme is a sprinkling of courage. Medieval ladies would embroider handkerchiefs with flowering thyme to give to their knights before battle. A soup or dish sprinkled with thyme should be served before a grand event to give you courage. Pair this thyme jewelry with a set of soup ramekins from our French Bistro Dishware for a mother that is brave and courageous. 

A mother is so many things, and while we hope you find this tale inspiring, we hope that your mother, or the mother figure in your life, is your ultimate inspiration. Shop our Mother's Day collection to find a token of your appreciation for her.

April 21, 2022 — Chelsey Newbould

Leave a comment