Remembering the Past Australia

Mother's Day

First Celebration in Australia
The White Carnation
19th June 1910

(Introducing Mother's Day — As published on 15th June in The Sydney Morning Herald.)

Mother's Day

‘Mother’s Day’, Australian Women’s Weekly, 9 May 1936

An effort is being made to Introduce “Mothers’ Day” into Australia, and Sunday next, June 19, has been chosen as the day on which sons and daughters are asked to show that they love their mother, if living, and honour her memory, if dead, by the wearing of a white carnation, or other white flower on that day. The white carnation has been specially chosen as the emblem denoting purity, faithfulness, chastity, charity, and love, all of these qualities being found in a true mother.

“Mother’s Day” has been kept in America for the last four years, the second Sunday in May being the day appointed for this purpose. Next year an endeavour will be made in Australia to keep “Mother’s Day” at the same time as the other countries do, but this year it was impossible to do so.

It is a wise plan selecting Sunday, rather than a week day, as the day on which to celebrate “Mother’s Day.” There are some families who are only able to meet all together on Sunday and in addition, there will be more time to devote to mother on that day than any other. The sons and daughters who are away from homo, and unable to be with mother on June 13 (“Mother’s Day”), could send a loving message by letter, or wire, to reach mother somewhere about that time. They might also seek to help to cheer and brighten the life of somebody else’s mother near them by a loving word or deed.

It is interesting to note it was a woman who first thought of the Idea of “Mother’s Day”: Miss Anna Jarvis, of Philadelphia, being the originator of the scheme. Her mother having died and Miss Anna Jarvis desiring in some way to show her appreciation of a good mother, suggested that a special day should be set apart as “Mother’s Day,” a day when the living mothers as well as the dead would be specially remembered by their children. 

Is it not right that a day should be set apart in honour of the good mothers still with us and in memory of the mothers who are gone? Empire Day is an established fact now, and it is to be hoped before long “Mother’s Day” will be universally kept throughout the world, because, while honouring our Empire, it is only proper we should also honour the Empire builders — the good mothers.

(Published on 20th June 1910 in the Sydney Morning Herald.)

Australia celebrated Mother’s Day yesterday for the first time.

The majority of the citizens know nothing of it. It came quietly and unostentatiously. A few churches and associations held special services, and a few thousand people wore the white carnation, emblem of purity, faithfulness, charity, and love — essential qualities of the true mother.

Mother’s Day has been honoured for four years in America. The idea was, appropriately enough, a woman’s. Miss Anna Jarvis, of Philadelphia, being anxious to show her recognition and appreciation of a good mother, urged the commemoration of Mother’s Day, a day when all mothers, living as well as dead, should be specially remembered by their children.

The idea caught on. Dr. Wilbur Chapman said, “You can count on me to do everything I can to make it a permanent church feature.” Schools and Sunday schools took it up. It was felt that Mother’s Day was the one holiday and holy day that the nations of the world could observe as one nation. Noble motherhood belonged to every country, every creed every clime, and every class. The message of the Y.M.C.A. to the world was, “Let us make much of Mother’s Day. There is power in it.” Once the movement got going, the New York “Tribune” wrote:—”If there is a white carnation growing anywhere in New York on Mother’s Day it will be because that carnation was overlooked.”

The idea is to make it worldwide—for people the world over on the second Sunday in May to crown Mother Queen of May in the hearts of her children. It was hoped to fall in line with America. But arrangements could not be made in time. Next year Australia, America, and Europe will celebrate Mother’s Day simultaneously.


Mother’s Day was celebrated with much enthusiasm at the Y.M.C.A. yesterday. The lecture-room was tastefully decorated with white flowers, while nearly every buttonhole held a white carnation. Canon Bellingham, in an appropriate address, paid a loyal tribute to Victoria the Good. He pictured her growing as a lily in a marsh, serenely pure in her influence in spite of the tainted atmosphere of the Georgian Court. The strength and inspiration of the reign of Edward the Peacemaker were drawn from his mother. Glancing at the outstanding examples of superb motherhood in sacred and secular history, the speaker, with many apt illustrations and stories, placed, as his tribute, beautiful laurels on the brow of womanhood.

At the Young Women’s Christian Association Mother’s Day was observed with appropriate services. The secretary, Miss Meager, presided, and solos were sung illustrating the power and influence of a mother’s love. The speaker told of the influence of a good mother on some of the famous men of history. She urged her hearers to lavish their love and care upon their mothers now, and not wait until they had passed away. An address was also delivered by Dr. Good, and all those present wore white flowers and blossoms.

A packed congregation attended Chalmers’ Church, where Mother’s Day was celebrated with much enthusiasm. White flowers were worn, and special songs and solos were sung. The Rev. Angus King dealt with the value of home life. “Where are the great men of the world made?” Napoleon was asked. And the Corsican replied, “In the nursery.” After giving some practical precepts for the home the preacher said that the real mother was sometimes below the ideal. But that did not matter. She was tired and weary and worn with the struggle to make both ends meet. They should see her as she ought to be, as she longed to be, in her best moments. He told of the soldiers on the veldt, comrades in exile, singing about mother, and their poor rhymes were uplifted by love to the level of the most sacred songs. Hearts grew tender, holy memories awakened, and tears sprang into many eyes. A lad in the 8th Hussars sang a song about mother, and the chorus rang out from 800 hearts:—

Though your footsteps falter,
My love will never alter,
As your hair grows whiter
I will love you more.

As the young soldier sat down the chaplain said, “Have you a mother, lad?”

“Aye, sir, Indeed I have, and I mean every word I sing.”

At Palmer-street Church Rev. W. A. S. Anderson conducted a special service. White flowers were worn, hymns and solos were given suitable to the occasion, and the speaker delivered a sympathetic address on “God’s High Commissioners.”

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.