Mother's Day: A brief history around the world


IT IS an occasion that spans hundreds of countries across the world but at the heart of Mother's Day is the idea of honouring and celebrating the significant role played by mothers' everywhere.

Just like the way each mother is different, different countries and cultures have their own history regarding how the day of appreciation came to be. Here's just a few:


Last year Mother's Day celebrated 100 years as an official holiday on the America calendar and while today we associate it with gifts, cards and flowers it was originally designed as a day of mourning and promoting peace.

While a number of women can be credited with setting the foundation dating back to 1850, Anna Jarvis is commonly known as the mother of Mother's Day and it was her hard campaigning that saw then president Woodrow Wilson declare it an official US holiday in May of 1914.

While Ms Jarvis got her inspiration of honouring mothers' from her own mother, Anna Marie Reeves Jarvis, who was an activist and social worker during the American Civil War period, it became a day to honour all mothers across the US.

Ms Jarvis would later denounce the holiday for its commercialisation and spent the latter part of her life campaigning to remove it from the calendar.


The United Kingdom celebrates Mothering Sunday on the fourth Sunday of Lent.

Most historians believe that Mothering Sunday evolved from the 16th-century Christian practice of visiting one's 'mother church' annually. This developed to allow children who had moved away from home for work (often as young as 10) to visit their 'mother church' once a year thus reuniting them with their families.


Mother's Day in Australia is celebrated on the second Sunday of every May and it all started with a woman by the name of Janet Heyden.

Mrs Hayden pioneered the national concept of gift giving in 1923 with a campaign dedicated to recognizing forgotten aged mothers at Sydney's Newington State Hospital.

She sought donations from leading businesses and schools while newspapers carried her appeal with the overall aim of providing lonely older ladies who had no family support with presents including soaps, confectionary and knitted items.

Mother's Day Spelling

Founder of Mother's Day in the US Anna Jarvis trademarked the phrase "Mother's Day" in 1912, specifically noting that "Mother's" should "be a singular possessive, for each family to honour its own mother, not a plural possessive commemorating all mothers of the world."

Topics:  family mothers mother's day

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