I dedicate this post to my beautiful, strong, intelligent and always supportive mother, Gina. I love you mumma! <3

For me, Mother’s Day is about thanking my mum (and other authoritative female figures in my life) for taking care of me, supporting me and doing whatever she could to help me learn and grow.

The first official Mother’s Day was in 1914 in the United States, and was not at all commercialised like today. Once it had been commercialised by President Woodrow Wilson in 1914, Australia followed suit in 1924. These are the official dates, however Mother’s Day unofficially began a lot earlier.

Where It All Began

Celebrations of motherhood can be traced back to the Ancient Greeks and Romans, when festivals were held in honour of the mother goddesses Rhea and Cybele.

During the 16th C CE, in the United Kingdom and parts of Europe, the Christian festival called Mothering Sunday was held. This festival fell on the fourth Sunday in Lent and was originally when those of faith would head for their mother church (the main church near their home) to attend a special service. Later this tradition changed to children presenting their mothers with gifts as tokens of appreciation.

Mother’s Day as we know it was founded by Anna Jarvis in the United States, but the idea started with her mother, Ann Reeves Jarvis, before the Civil War (1861-1865). Ann helped start Mother’s Day Work Clubs to help teach local women how to care for their children. In 1868 Ann organized Mothers’ Friendship Day to gather former Union and Confederate soldiers to promote reconciliation.

After her mother died in 1905 Anna Jarvis wanted to honour the sacrifices mothers made for their children. She gained the financial backing of John Wanamaker, the owner of a Philadelphia department store, and with that organised the first ever (unofficial) Mother’s Day celebration at a Methodist church in Grafton, West Virginia, in May 1908. After the success of the first celebration she campaigned to have Mother’s Day added to the national calendar.

By 1912 many states, towns and churches had started celebrating Mother’s Day as an annual holiday and in 1914 President Woodrow Wilson officially recognised the second Sunday in May as Mother’s Day. Once Mother’s Day became a national holiday it was commercialised and capitalised on. This was not what Anna intended and in 1920 she outwardly denounced Mother’s Day being such a commercial holiday. Before her death in 1948, Anna had disowned Mother’s Day altogether, and had actively lobbied the government to have it removed as a national holiday.

Mother’s Day Today

Today 168 countries celebrate Mother’s Day, and just over half of those countries celebrate on the second Sunday in May whilst other countries have adopted their own versions depending on cultural, historical or religious significance.

In Australia and the United States it is continued to be celebrated by giving gifts to our mothers, ranging from homemade, to eating out, to the traditional flowers, chocolates and cards. Mothers are also “given a day off” from their duties and are seen to be pampered.

In Australia, the total number of families has reached 5.6 million, according to the Australia Bureau of Statistics 2011 census. Aussies spend an average of $53 per person on mum, coming to a total of $1.286 billion! $31.2 million of those dollars are spent on the classic flowers and cards, whilst the biggest cost on Mother’s Day is eating out, costing Aussies a total of $327.5 million.

Mums in the United States have reached 85.4 million, according to the Statistic Brain Research Institute. Americans are spending a whopping $20.7 billion on Mother’s Day, which averages to $168.94 per person. $1.9 billion is spent on flowers whilst $671 million is spent on cards.

Mother’s Day Flowers Facts

  • One quarter of all flowers purchased throughout the year is on Mother’s Day
  • Pink and red carnations are given to mothers who are alive, while white ones are for those who have passed away
  • Studies show that giving a bouquet of flowers has positive health and psychological benefits

Most of the time your mum would prefer a more personal gift than anything else. Here are a few ways you can donate on Mother’s Day to show your appreciation for everything mums do.

Donation to Breast or Ovarian Cancer Research
Donating to breast cancer research is my favourite Mother’s Day gift. My grandmother was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2013 and ever since this has been my way to show support to her and all the other women (and mums) who have been or will be diagnosed with breast cancer. One in eight women and one in 688 men will develop breast cancer in their lifetime. I donate through the Breast Cancer Institute of Australia. Once you have made your donation you can choose from an animated Mother’s Day e-card, PDF e-card or traditional card for your someone you would like to send it to.

Alternatively you could donate to Ovarian Cancer Australia in support of ovarian cancer awareness and research, and the women and mums who have been or will be diagnosed with ovarian cancer. Approximately 1500 women are diagnosed in Australia every year.

There is also the Cancer Council, and the Australian Cancer Research Foundation if you prefer something more generic.

Mother’s Day Classic
On a similar topic is the Mother’s Day Classic. This is held all over the country in Australia every year on Mother’s Day and is a fun run and walk to raise money for breast cancer research.

UNICEF Donation
In honour of mothers around the world you can donate to UNICEF and choose from a variety of gifts that will deliver life-saving health care, nutrition or protection for children who need it most.


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Mother’s Day. 2015. Holidays – [ONLINE] Available at: [Accessed 8 May 2015].
Mother’s Day 2015 Media Release. 2015. Australian Bureau of Statistics. [ONLINE] Available at: [Accessed 9 May 2015].
Mother’s Day Statistics. 2015. Statistic Brain. [ONLINE] Available at: [Accessed 8 May 2015].
We’ll Be Pampering Mum at Expense of Traditional Gifts. 2015. CHOICE. [ONLINE] Available at: [Accessed 10 May 2015].
20 Fun Facts About Mother’s Day | Mother’s Day Flowers. 2015. Online Star Register. [ONLINE] Available at: [Accessed 9 May 2015].