Natalie Di Paola

Everyone knows about Mother’s Day and when it is, but few actually know how it came to be.

Technically, Mother’s Day dates back thousands of years to celebrations such as the Roman festival of Hilaria and the Greek cult to Cybele. However, it did not become popularised until the early 1900s.

In 1908, Anna Jarvis, an American woman, celebrated the first Mother’s Day by holding a memorial for her mother at St Andrew’s Methodist Church in Grafton, West Virginia. Jarvis had wanted to honour her mother, Ann Reeves Jarvis, who had cared for wounded soldiers on both sides of the American Civil War and created Mother’s Day Work Clubs to address public health issues.

When her mother passed away in 1905, Anna began campaigning to have Mother’s Day recognised as a holiday in the US. However, it wasn’t until 1911 that all states observed the holiday. In 1914, the holiday was designated to the second Sunday of May. This was later adopted as the designated date for Mother’s Day in Australia too.

Despite her success in founding Mother’s Day, Jarvis began to resent it when she felt that the day was being exploited by companies such as Hallmark. She spent the rest of her life campaigning against commercialisation of the day.

Mother’s Day didn’t gain recognition in Australia until 1924. Janet Heyden, from Sydney, began celebrating Mother’s Day after visiting a friend at Newington State Hospital. While there, she empathised with the ageing mothers who were lonely and forgotten. Heyden then began campaigning for schools and businesses to donate gifts to the ladies, and started the tradition of celebrating Mother’s Day.

Today, Mother’s Day is still a day for honouring and spoiling mums with gifts, breakfast/lunch/dinner at cafes and restaurants and other treats for all that they have done for their families.

“I love Mother’s Day because it’s like a second birthday to me!” laughs Rose Lancuba, a fifty-year-old mum and resident of the North Shore. “I get presents, my meals prepared for me and a day for me to put my feet up and relax.”

When asked about what Mother’s Day means to her, Lancuba says, “I know for me, and I’m sure I speak for other mother’s out there too, that it’s the one day of the year where you feel appreciated and recognised for giving birth, raising kids, cooking and cleaning for the family, and everything else that mothers do.

“I know that a lot of women, myself included, have given up things like careers and stuff to raise a family, and I know that there are some women today who still do this. So, it’s nice to be appreciated for what you’ve done for your kids.”