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20 Interesting Facts About Mother's Day

6 min read
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Beyond the flowers and heartfelt cards, there’s a rich history and tradition surrounding Mother’s Day. From its humble beginnings to cultural traditions around the world, this day is as diverse and vibrant as the women it honours. Notably, Mother's Day falls on May 12th this year. So, in celebration of the extraordinary women in our lives, let’s dive into some Mother’s Day facts that highlight the depth and significance of this holiday.

1. Mother’s Day was originally a protest against war.

Social activist, Julia Ward Howe, introduced Mother’s Day to the United States following the Civil War.  But her concept of the holiday was different from the one we know today. Howe’s vision of Mother’s Day was a day dedicated to promoting peace, where women would rally against war. Some people continued to celebrate the holiday as a means of protest, one of them being a group of women who rallied against nuclear weapons in 1982.

2. The first Mother’s Day was held as a memorial service.

On May 12, 1907, Anna Jarvis conducted a ceremony to honour her late mum who organised women’s groups to promote friendship and health. Jarvis then spearheaded an effort to establish a day of celebration honouring the role mums play in their families, which eventually led to the official recognition of Mother’s Day as a national holiday in 1914.[1]

3. Mother’s Day’s founder tried to abolish the holiday.

What had been originally a special and intimate day of honour for mums eventually became a commercialised opportunity for sending gifts and cards. In protest against its commercialisation, Anna Jarvis tried to abolish the holiday before she passed away in 1948.

4. The first Australian Mother’s Day happened after WWI.

In 1924, Janet Heyden, a woman from Sydney, started the tradition to assist lonely mums she encountered at Newington State Hospital during a visit to a friend. Heyden requested that schools and businesses donate gifts to the women who lost their husbands and sons in the First World War.

5. “Mum” is said to have come from babies.

While variations of “momma” and “mamma” are found in different languages around the world, many linguists believe both words are derived from the sound babies and toddlers make when they aren’t able to form full sentences yet: ma, ma.

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6. A mum’s voice has scientifically proven benefits for her child.

Research shows that the sound of a mum’s voice has calming effects on their children, reducing their cortisol levels (the body’s main stress hormone) and increasing oxytocin (the “love” or bonding hormone).[2]

7. Even a mum’s scent has a special power.

Mums have a distinct scent that babies recognise, creating a strong feeling of comfort and safety. In recent studies, it has also been found that their scent serves as a signal so babies can safely build relationships with other adults such as caregivers.

8. More calls are made on Mother’s Day than on any other day.

In 2020, there was a 13% increase in voice calls on Mother’s Day over a typical Sunday.[3] So, let this be a reminder to let your mum hear the warmth of your voice this Mother’s Day. 

9. In Thailand, Mother’s Day is celebrated in a unique way.

On Mother’s Day in Thailand, mums attend a special event at their children’s schools. In their tradition, each child bows at the feet of their mum as a way of showing appreciation and gratitude.

10. Mums were awarded medals in France.

All mums certainly deserve a medal, and in France, they were actually awarded one! During the 1920s, the country started awarding medals to mums of large families as a way of showing gratitude and appreciation for their role in helping rebuild the population after World War I. While the medal-awarding tradition has ended, the practice of giving flower-shaped cakes to mums continues to this day.

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11. Ancient Greece hosted one of the first Mother’s Day celebrations.

The ancient Greeks dedicated a spring festival to Rhea, the mother of the gods and the goddess of fertility, motherhood, and generation.

12. Mother’s Day has religious origins in the United Kingdom.

Mother’s Day in the U.K. was originally established to encourage individuals to visit their local or “mother” church for a special annual service.

13. Mother’s Day is celebrated on various dates globally.

While most countries celebrate Mother’s Day on the second Sunday of May, others observe the holiday on different dates throughout the year. In the United Kingdom, Mothering Sunday falls on the fourth Sunday of Lent, which is typically in March. In Argentina, Mother’s Day is celebrated on the third Sunday in October and the only country to celebrate the holiday on that date.

14. A 2023 study reveals what mums want for Mother’s Day.

In one poll, 51% of mums said that what they truly desire for Mother’s Day is something much simpler yet infinitely more precious: quality time with their loved ones.[4] So, consider giving the gift of your presence and undivided attention to your mum this Mother’s Day and create memories that will last a lifetime.

15. Mother’s Day is the third largest card-sending holiday.

With about 113 million cards exchanged each year, Mother’s Day serves as a testament to the enduring power of a handwritten note. So, skip the chats and texts and write your mum a heartfelt Mother’s Day card message she can hold close to her heart.

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16.  A stamp was designed for Mother’s Day in 1934.

A 3-cent violet stamp was released on May 2, 1934, in honour of mums in America. The stamp’s design is based on James McNeill Whistler’s artwork of the “Portrait of My Mother,” also known as “An Arrangement in Gray and Black.”

17. Flowers are Australians’ top gift of choice for Mother’s Day.

In a 2024 survey, Australians say that flowers are their number one gift of choice for Mother’s Day, with food/alcohol coming in second and a vacation or dinner ranking third.[5]

18. Carnations are the traditional Mother’s Day symbol.

Speaking of flowers, carnations are traditionally associated with Mother’s Day due to their long-standing symbolism of love, gratitude, and purity. White carnations are also often used to honour mums who have passed away, serving as a poignant reminder of their everlasting presence in our hearts.

19. In Christianity, pink carnations represent a mum’s undying love.

It is believed that when the Virgin Mary saw Jesus carrying his cross before he was to be crucified, she wept, and pink carnations bloomed from where her tears fell to the ground. Since then, pink carnations have been a symbol of a mum’s unconditional love and devotion. So, when you give a pink carnation to your mum on Mother’s Day, you’re honouring your timeless bond and expressing gratitude for her love and sacrifice.

20. Mother’s Day is for all mums of every kind.

From our birth mums to stepmums, grandmothers, aunts, adoptive mums, and other motherly figures who play important roles in our lives, Mother’s Day is a day to honour their tireless devotion and celebrate the diverse forms of motherhood that shape our lives.

Mother’s Day: Celebrating the Women Who Make a Difference

Now that you’ve learned some facts about Mother’s Day, it’s time to create unforgettable memories that your mum will remember even after the holiday has passed. Whether through flowers, gifts, hampers, or cherished moments spent together, Mother’s Day reminds us to honour and appreciate the remarkable mums who enrich our lives every day.

Whether you’re near or far, Interflora™ Australia is here to make your mum’s day extra special with our Mother’s Day flowers and Mother’s Day hampers. Take a photo of your beautiful bouquet with your mum on Facebook or Instagram using the hashtags #InterfloraAU #AlwaysInterflora #MothersDayWithInterflora.

Interflora Australia has been operating across our country since 1954. Originally based in Adelaide, South Australia, we now operate out of Interflora House in Melbourne, Victoria. Interflora Australia is 100% Australian owned - via a licensing agreement, issued to us from Interflora in the United Kingdom...