Ohinemuri Regional History Journal 42, September 1998
The Paeroa Gazette, in a feature published prior to Mother's Day, 1998, cited the origins of Mother's Day.
It was stated that the ancient Romans celebrated a spring festival dedicated to Cybele, the mother goddess. It was an important celebration called the Hilaria which began on the ides of March (15 March) and continued for three days. Christianity adopted the festival, making it a moveable feast to fall on the fourth Sunday of Lent, and calling it Mothering Sunday. It became the custom amongst children living away from home, in service, to leave their master's household and return to their parental home bearing gifts for their mothers. Gifts were traditionally handmade, spring flowers and/or a simnel cake made from the highest grade flour, fresh eggs and rare spices that the giver managed to acquire during the year. They also visited their "mother" church on this Sunday, the church in which they were baptised.
In 1905 in the United States, Miss Anna M Jarvis set aside a day in May, dedicated to the memory of her mother. The habit of celebrating Mother's Day in New Zealand is said to date from the First World War when American soldiers popularised the custom.
The American Mother's Day falls on the second Sunday in May, a day designated by President Woodrow Wilson on 9 May 1914.
However Paeroa resident, Mrs Norma Wood says that New Zealand did not follow the rest of the world in honouring their mothers because of the custom of some American soldiers or because of Woodrow Wilson. She states that her Grandmother, Selina Cossgrove initiated the tradition in New Zealand.
Mrs Wood explained that her Grandfather, Lieutenant Colonel David Cossgrove was the founder of Scouting in New Zealand. In 1909 a group of Cossgrove's Scouts wanted to do something special to mark Selina Cossgrove's Birthday in May of that year, as they were all very fond of her. She told them however, that rather than honour her, they should each honour their own mother, which they did, thus starting the tradition of Mother's Day in New Zealand.
In those days it was not presents that were bought, but children did something to help their mother to show appreciation of her. Mrs Wood believes that the tradition has become too commercialised, losing sight of the original spirit of the Day.