Sunday, 10 May 2015

Mother's Day - A celebration

Firstly I have to apologise for being a little tardy with my scheduled post! We are at present driving home, after spending the weekend with family, and celebrating Mother's Day with my mother. This morning, we braved a very chilly morning to take Mum out for Mothers's Day brunch. As she is quite elderly now it is a wonderful to have some time with her and see her delight when the huge plate of apple and cinnamon pancakes was popped in front of her. 

This morning's celebration got me thinking! remembering past mother days and wondering how long we had been celebrating Mother's Day in Australia.  

It you go back in history there are numerous references of different festivals that celebrated Mothers.  Many historians proposed that the first Mother's Day celebrations were the ancient spring festivals dedicated to mother goddesses. In Rome, around 250 BC there was the celebration to Cybele, or  Magna Mater (Great Mother). This festival was celebrated for three days in March and was called Hilaria.  The Greek's had a similar celebration in spring in which they honoured Rhea the mother of gods and goddesses. 
Anna Jarvis

A similar celebration, called Mothering Sunday, has been practiced in England since the 1600's. This celebration is also called Mid-Lent Sunday. However, the celebration of the modern Mothers day is accredited to Anna Jarvis. In 1908 Anna sought to honour her mother by holding a memorial church service in Grafton, West Virginia. It was her desire to have a day put aside especially to remember and pay respect to mothers. Following this service Anna and her fellow supporters lobbied officials throughout America to have Mother's Day endorsed as an official holiday.

I hope and pray that someone, sometime will found a memorial mothers day commemorating her for the matchless service she renders to humanity in every field of life.  She is entitled to it.  
- Ann Reeves Jarvis.

By 1911 Mother's Day was celebrated widely throughout the United States, and in 1914 the second Sunday in May was officially declared as "Mother's Day".  Her wishes were realised.  Interestingly, in later years, after the commercialisation of "Mother's Day" by florists, chocolate manufacturers, and greeting card companies, Anna regretted the move away from the true meaning of Mother's Day.

It seems Australia followed quickly in the steps of the United States and "Mother's Day" is reported to be celebrated in 1909, only a year after Anna's celebrated memorial service in West Virgina.

A number of reports can be found in TROVE, outlining the celebration of the new "Mother's Day" holiday.  The report here from 10 May 1909 points out that "the second Sunday in May is now generally set apart in the United States as a period for extolling of the virtues of mothers" it goes on to point out "The mothers of Australia are no less deserving of praise and gratitude than are those of the great Republic".

How did you celebrate mothers day, has your celebration changed over time?  I remember as a small child my sisters and I making cards and saving up for a small gift for Mum. Often this gift would be some talc and soap or a new cup, saucer and plate set for her tea set collection.  Mothers Day would start with four sisters bouncing on Mum and Dad's bed, bringing in our gifts and settling in for a cuddle and wrestle.

As we grew older, we took on the task of preparing a special Sunday lunch to celebrate mother's day.  The kitchen would be turned into something a little short of a war zone, as we put together a three course lunch and our Dad would be assigned to the kitchen sink, up to his elbows in soapy suds, washing the piles of discarded saucepans and pots. My mother must have observed these operations with great amusement and possibly a little trepidation. 

A few years passed and it became my turn to be the recipient of Mother's Day attention.  I recall a number of occasions, lying in bed, and listening to my eldest son, in our kitchen giving directions as my two boys prepared my Mother's Day breakfast.  After a short while, two smiling teenage boys would appear at our bedroom door, one bearing a cup of steaming hot tea and the other balancing a large tray of breakfast goodies.  The tray would be laden with an enormous bowl of rice bubbles, milk lapping the rim of the bowl and a large orange on a side dish.  My husband would smile, wink and whisper,  "Make sure you eat all that cereal".  

Today we celebrate Mothers Day with family gatherings, special lunches, flowers, cards and gifts. Yes, it has become highly commercialised, however it has also become a special time for family to reconnect and pay respects to mothers, grandmothers and aunts. 

I would like to dedicate this Mother's Day post to my special Mum and my grandmothers as these wonderful women have had such an incredible influence on who I am today. 
My Nannas - Happy Mother's Day


  1. Thank you so much for enlightening me about Mother's Day in Australia. It's Mother's Day in the U.S. as well and I am living through my first Mother's Day since Mom's death. It's been hard, but seeing how much other genealogy blogger revere their mothers has made it a bit better.

  2. It must be a tough day for you. Sending you a big Mothers Day hug!

  3. Thank you for explaining and sharing.

  4. Thanks for the history lesson. And, for sharing your Mother's Day celebrations.


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