The fascinating true story of how Mother's Day started in Australia.

Although Mother’s Day was established in the United States in 1905, the Australian tradition of Mother’s Day didn’t take form until the 1920s.

In 1924 Janet Heyden, from Leichhardt in Sydney, started the Australian tradition of giving gifts to mums on Mother’s Day.

Heyden was on the committee of the Home for Destitute Women and Children in Strathfield, and she was visiting a patient who had been transferred to Newington State Home. 

“That was when I decided something should be done to brighten the lonely lives of the mothers there. I organised gifts for them on Mother’s Day,” Heyden told the Sydney Morning Herald in 1954. 

“Even a little remembrance like hairpins (they wouldn’t be much good these days, would they?), a hankie or a cake of soap meant a lot to people like that.” 

But then Heyden thought – why stop there? She appealed to the wider public – through the local newspapers – and soon the gifts were pouring in.

mother's day meaning
Janet Heyden. Image via the Australian Women's Weekly.

"The late Alderman Dyer, who was Mayor of Leichhardt, used to drive me around to the old mothers of the district with my gift parcels."

"For seven years in succession the appeal through the newspapers made sure that hundreds of mothers who would otherwise have been forgotten received a Mother's Day gift," she said. "Today, of course, a gift for mother is just a natural thing."

Heyden's tradition of honouring mums with a gift and a card soon caught on, and families from around Australia were celebrating Mother's Day with their mums.

My Perfect Mother’s Day is One Without My Darling Children. Post continues...

Although we've come a long way from hairpins and hankies, the Mother's Day Heyden envisioned is definitely alive and well. Today, families from around the country will take the time to honour their mum - and everything she does for them - with a card, a gift, a phone call, or maybe even some breakfast in bed.

How are you spoiling mum this Mother's Day?