From the Principal

The History of Mother's Day


This Sunday, 12 May, is Mother’s Day and I extend my warmest wishes to all mothers with the hope that they are spoiled on this special day. When thinking about Mother’s Day my first thought was that every day should be Mother’s Day as the role description for a mum is huge. It can include everything from carer, counsellor, taxi driver and confidant through to domestic slave, and so, it is wonderful to have a special day to recognise the role and work of mothers.

My next thought about Mother’s Day is how did this celebration begin? With a little help from Google, I found that Mother’s Day can be traced back to the ancient Greek and Romans as they held festivals in honour of the mother goddesses Rhea and Cybele. However, the earliest modern precedent for Mother’s Day was the early Christian festival known as Mothering Sunday.

The modern Australian celebration of Mother’s Day has its roots in calls for peace and anti-war campaigns after the American Civil War (1861-65). It was American writer and women’s rights activist, Julia Ward Howe, best known for writing the Battle Hymn of the Republic, who is largely responsible for what we now know as Mother’s Day.Appealing to all women to unite to bring peace throughout the world, Howe proposed that a Mother’s Day for peace be commemorated every year in June.

Mother’s Day was first celebrated in Australia in 1924, when Sydney woman, Janet Heyden started the tradition to support the lonely, forgotten aged mothers at Newington State Hospital. She met these women while visiting a friend and she noticed that many of them were widows or women who had no prospect of becoming mother’s due to a whole generation of men being lost to war. Heyden campaigned for local schools and businesses to donate gifts to these women.

This day quickly grew in popularity and fast became one of the key celebrations in the Australian calendar. Today it is a day when families come together to spoil their mum’s, wives and grandmothers. It is also a time to celebrate family life and the great gift that families are to our society. For many families it is a time to actually recognise all that mothers do for us and to actually acknowledge how much we love our mum’s.

So what is the best way to acknowledge our mum’s this Mother’s Day? While I am obviously not a mother, I am probably not the best person to be offering advice. However, I believe the best way of acknowledging our mothers, grandmothers or wives is to simply love them and to show our love in the way that is most meaningful. For some mothers this might be with flowers or a card, it might be by cooking breakfast or dinner, it might be with a gift, or it might be simply with your presence. No matter how you acknowledge these special people in our lives, the main thing is that we do and we do so with great love.

I hope and pray that all of our mothers have a wonderful day on Sunday.

Dr Frank Pitt, Principal


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