Mother's Day has a variety of origins

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Australia: Janet Heyden organised for school children and businesses to donate gifts to forgotten mothers at the Newington State Home for Women. Photo: Shutterstock.

Australia: Janet Heyden organised for school children and businesses to donate gifts to forgotten mothers at the Newington State Home for Women. Photo: Shutterstock.

Australia first celebrated a Mother's Day in 1924.

Here, it is credited to Janet Heyden, who wanted to do something for lonely and forgotten mothers (in the wake of World War I), whom she saw when visiting a friend who was also a patient at the Newington State Home for Women.

Janet's idea was to cheer them up by having local school children and businesses donate gifts, and the idea gained momentum from there.

The celebration started earlier in the USA. In 1870 Julia Ward Howe, author of The Battle Hymn of the Republic, attempted to start it as an anti-war movement following the American Civil War (1861-65), but her campaign didn't gain enough popularity.

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Starting in 1908, Anna Marie Jarvis started campaigning US Congress to add a Mother's day public holiday.

She persisted, and by 1911 all US states observed the holiday, and in 1914 US president Woodrow Wilson officially declared the second Sunday in May to be Mother's Day.

Anna's ideal of Mother's Day was that people would make personalised cards and write loving letters to honour their mothers. Many children do still that today - perhaps with a little help from a teacher or family member - by writing and decorating their own cards with a special little message just for mum.

Mothers, and motherhood, is celebrated in a variety of ways around the world.

The ancient Greeks and Romans held festivals in honour of the mother goddesses Rhea and Cybele.

Later, another precedent for Mother's Day is still observed in the UK in parishes of the Roman Catholic Church and the Church of England, on the fourth Sunday of Lent.

Some of the most recent countries to observe Mother's Days are the South Sudan (since 2012), Romania (2010), Belarus (1996) and Slovakia (1993).

The earliest one each year that follows the Gregorian calendar is Norway with the second Sunday in February. The last is December 22 in Indonesia.