Sunday, 8 May 2016

Mother's Day in Australia

The history of Mother's Day in Australia:

In 1923, the late Mrs Janet Heyden was a pioneer of Australian Mother's Days. Mrs Heyden's concern over lonely, forgotten aged mothers in Sydney's Newington State Hospital, where she visited an old friend regularly, started a campaign throughout the city for donations to buy presents for these old ladies. Newspapers carried her appeals, while she made personal requests to many of Sydney's leading business houses. 

The response amounted to a ton of donations, which were stored in the Sydney Feminist Club. They ranged from talcum powder and soap to knitted scarves and mittens. Confectionery manufacturers, leading firms and the Sydney Fruit Market all contributed toward Mrs Heyden's gifts for 'her' lonely mothers.

Mrs Heyden also visited many Sydney schools, asking the pupils for help. "I want 10in x 12in bags with double draw-strings', were her instructions and the pupils from some of these schools made more than 200 of them - and filled every one for her. 

Although her original idea was directed toward mothers, Mrs Heyden's sympathy extended to old and neglected fathers too. With surplus bags she was also a pioneer of Father's Day. Her appeals continued regularly during the following years, while the show windows of retail stores all over the nation took up the idea.

Ever since her first appeal in 1923, she visited the lonely and forgotten mothers in Newington, until her death in 1960 with gifts and bunches of chrysanthemums. 

It is said that Mrs Heyden was disappointed by the commercialism of Mother's Day and the loss of its original meaning, but she, nevertheless considered that this commercialism would do more good than harm - because commercial interest provided publicity which reminded people of the occasion.

Due to Mrs Heyden's work in recognising Mothers with these small gifts and chrysanthemums, local politicians assigned the second Sunday in May for Mother's Day, because that is when chrysanthemums are at their peak in Australia.

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