mothers day

Mother’s Day is a special day where mothers all around the world are recognised and celebrated. The celebration takes many forms from house to house, and country to country, but for the most part it’s a day where mothers get the chance to put their feet up and be well and truly spoilt!

When is Mother’s Day?

In New Zealand, Mother’s Day dates follow the United States origin, and is celebrated on the second Sunday in May.

In 2019, Mother’s Day in NZ is 12 May 2019.

How did Mother’s Day start?

Some people think Mothers Day is just another day dreamt up by retailers to make some extra cash, but this special day existed long before the commercial aspect arrived.

Mother’s Day has a number of origins around the world, and as each country recognises Mother’s Day at a time which reflects their original festival, the actual date of celebration varies the world over.

Origin of Mothers Day in the United States

Mothers Day in the US


There are two stories which are attributed to the origin of Mothers Day in the United States, but while they happened several decades apart, they both contributed to establishing this special day of celebration.

In the late 1800’s a social activist named Julia Ward Howe, organised special services and rallies for women to unite against war. In 1870 she wrote a proclamation calling for mothers to unite against war, and tried (but failed) to get formal recognition for a Mother’s Day of Peace.

At the same time, another woman named Ann Jarvis was also working in the women’s movement, attempting to improve sanitation conditions for women on both sides of the Civil War.

After Ann passed away years later, her daughter Anna organised a special church service as a tribute to her late mother. The service was held on 10th May 1908, (the third anniversary of Ann’s death), and was to honour all mothers, both those who were living and those who had passed away.

The service became very popular, and over the years developed into a regular celebration.

Anna campaigned to ministers, businessmen and politicians to make the day a national holiday, and in 1914 a resolution was passed in both houses of representatives to call the second Sunday in May – Mother’s Day.

Origin of Mother’s Day in Britain

Mothering-Sunday-Kiwi Families


Mother’s Day in Britain has quite a different origin to that of Mother’s Day in the United States and in turn New Zealand.

In Britain, Mother’s Day (or Mothering Sunday) occurs on the fourth Sunday of Lent, exactly 3 weeks before Easter, and is thought to be the day that masters would allow their slaves free to visit their mothers.

It is also linked to a century old practice where children where expected to visit their mother’s church once a year.

Origin of Mother’s Day Around the World

Many countries across the world (including New Zealand) have adopted the Mother’s Day celebration based on the United States origin, but many have created other versions of Mother’s Day based on their own national observances.

For many countries the day coincides with the birthday of a Queen, religious festivals, or other women’s days.

How is Mother’s Day celebrated?

mothers day-breakfast in bed-Kiwi Families

Country Living Magazine

There is no one way to celebrate Mother’s Day, although it is common for mothers to receive cards, gifts and special favours such as breakfast in bed.

Many churches hold services to honour mothers, and restaurants across the world are packed to the brim for Mother’s Day lunch.

Commercial aspects aside, Mother’s Day is a chance for you to do something special, and show mothers everywhere just how much they are appreciated. You might like to check out some of our Mother’s Day Craft ideas.

Ideas for Celebrating Mother’s Day

Whether you’re a Mum or Dad organising something special for your mother, or you want to give your children some sneaky suggestions for their own mum – here are some great ideas to get you started.

  • Collect photos, pictures, postcards, and mementos of all Mum’s favourite things and put them into a photo album or special box.
  • Think outside the square and collect things like the recipe for her favourite chocolate cake, a packet of her favourite flower seeds, or the menu from her favourite restaurant. Whenever she’s feeling down she’ll be able to flick through her favourite things and have a smile.
  • Make a book of all the things you have learnt from your Mum. They could be serious lessons, or not so serious – or maybe a collection of both.
  • Cut out heaps and heaps of heart shapes from coloured card, and on each one write something special that you love about your Mum. Put them all into a decorated box and Mum can pull one out whenever she needs a boost.
  • If it’s not possible to take Mum out to the movies, rent her favourite movie on DVD and make a batch of popcorn to eat while you watch the movie together.
  • There’s nothing more special to a mother than her family. Put together a photo album of your whole family, and have every person add their own special message. If you are a whiz on the computer, you could make an online album to share.
  • Make a pile of vouchers which Mum can redeem from you at anytime. You might want to include things like one cooking-free night, a neck massage, or bubble bath and 30 minutes of peace and quiet!
  • Download all of Mums favourite songs onto CD, and create a great album cover telling her she’s the best Mum in the world. Every time she listens to the CD, she’ll think of you.
  • Pick a bunch of flowers from your garden and attach a homemade card. It really is the thought that counts, and Mums know exactly how much a thought means.

6 Simple Mother’s Day Craft ideas

Above all else, remember to tell Mum you love her, and how much you appreciate everything she does. Mums don’t expect to be acknowledged, but it sure makes a difference when they are.

Happy Mother’s Day New Zealand!

The Kiwi Families Team

This information was compiled by the Kiwi Families team.

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