A Retrospective Look at Mothers’ Day in the Yass Valley

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This year, Mothers’ Day is on Sunday 10th May 2022, so it’s high time that those of us who still have our mothers start preparing for the event.

A review of old newspapers on TROVE (the Australian National Library’s holding of digitalised old newspapers) shows that there has been a change in the way Mothers’ Day has been observed. In addition to being a way that families could honour their mothers, it was seen as a vehicle for raising much-needed funds to support charities with a focus on mothers and infants.

This charitable action was seen locally in 1935, when, in addition to Mother’s Day services held at Bookham Memorial Church and St. Andrew’s, Yass money was raised by Yass school children by selling special flannel flower badges for the Benevolent Society of NSW.

In 1936 Mr. Thos. E. Shonk, the head of the Benevolent Society, wrote to the principal of the Yass District School urging its continued participation in the badge selling, saying “The Government, in giving us exclusive rights under the new Charities Act, has practically made our flannel flower badge Australia’s national Mothers’ Day emblem. We know that many really generous folk will not buy an emblem because they have kept last year’s. This, however, does not help the sick mothers and babies, so this year we have altered the design, putting the words at the bottom and have made the flowers even more natural. The emblems will again be sold at 6d each to help the sick and destitute mothers and little ones at our Royal Hospital for Women, Renwick Hospital for Infants, “Scarba” Welfare House for Children and the Food Relief Depot.”

Mr Shonk’s appeal worked, and a number of the badges were procured by the school and sold to raise funds for the charity.

In 1946, charity was extended to those in Yass, when the young women of the Presbyterian Church organised a Mothers’ Day social for older women, which was held in St. Andrew’s Hall. Special Mothers’ Day church services were also held that year at Bookham Memorial Church, Scots Church, Murrumbateman, and St Andrew’s Church, Yass.

But things took a decidedly commercial turn in the 1960s and 70s, when retailers decided to make Mothers’ Day part of the retail calendar of events.

It would have been a very brave or foolish father or child who succumbed to the following 1970 advert in The Canberra Times:

MOTHERS’ DAY SPECIAL
FREE
FREE
FREE
IRONING BOARDS with every HOT-POINT STEAM IRON (£10/19/6) OR AUTO. TOASTER (£12/19/6) Buy on Easy Terms from MALVERN STAR STORES Garema Place, CIVIC CENTRE
Phone J2757, J2798.

If you would like to continue the tradition of giving to charities that support mothers and babies, then please consider giving to:

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