Mother’s Day is one of the most popular holidays in Australia, and there are many ways to celebrate it in 2020 and beyond. The information provided on this page can help you to plan the perfect Mother’s Day celebration with your family.

When is Mother’s Day celebrated in Australia?

Like many countries, Mother’s Day in Australia is observed annually on the second Sunday of May.

The table below lists out Mother’s Day dates in Australia from 2020 – 2022:

YearDate
2022Sunday, 10th May
2021Sunday, 9th of May
2020Sunday, 8th of May

Are you looking for previous Mother’s Day dates for 2019 or earlier? Previously scheduled Mother’s Day observances for 2015 – 2019 can be found in the table below:

YearDate
2019Sunday, 12th May
2018Sunday, 13th May
2017Sunday, 14th May
2016Sunday, 8th May
2015Sunday, 10th May

The history of Mother’s Day

The Mother’s Day holiday has existed for more than a century and it is observed in over 40 countries across the world. Mother’s Day was first celebrated in the United States by peace activist, Anna Jarvis, in 1908. When Jarvis’s mother died in 1905, she initiated a campaign to make Mother’s Day a duly recognized holiday in the US. However, her proposal was continually denied by the US Congress. Despite the negative outcome, Anna held a memorial at St Mathews Methodist church, West Virginia, to celebrate her late mother.

As the years went by, Anna Jarvis continued to push for the recognition of Mother’s Day in the US, and in 1911, her efforts paid off. While the US Congress’ decision remained unchanged, all states in the USA chose to observe the holiday.

Eventually, in 1914, a declaration was signed by Woodrow Wilson establishing the second Sunday of May as Mother’s Day. In her later life, Anna Jarvis campaigned fiercely against the commercialisation of Mother’s Day.

mother's day in australia

In Australia, the first Mother’s Day in Australia was held in 1924, over a decade after it first began in the US in 1908. A total of 168 countries celebrate Mother’s Day in 2020.

Interesting Mother’s Day facts

The Australian Bureau of Statistics has compiled some interesting facts about Mother’s Day. Did you know these facts about Mums?

  • In 2012-13 there were 6,227,200 Australian women aged 18 and over who had given birth to children.
  • In the USA,  Mother’s Day greetings cards are the most popular type of card sold. Every Mother’s Day there are approximately 152 million Mother’s Day cards purchased and sent.
  • The carnation is a flower strongly associated with Mother’s Day. The carnation was first used to celebrate Mother’s Day by Anna Jarvis.
  • In June 2014, 71 per cent of working mums used alternative work arrangements to care for their children 0-12 years. Flexible work was used by 39 per cent, part time work by 38 per cent and 19 per cent worked at home.
  • Also in June 2014, almost two in five (38 per cent) of women who ran their own business had children under 15, and nearly one in five (18 per cent), had a child aged 0-5.

For more information about Australian Mother’s Day statistics, visit the Australian Bureau of Statistics website.

Things to do on Mother’s Day in Australia

Over the years, Mother’s Day has grown in popularity for Australians. Not unlike Father’s Day, it’s evolved from being just a day set aside for celebrating mothers to becoming one of the most widely observed holidays in Australia.

If you are scratching your head and trying to find ideas to plan your Mother’s Day in 2021, then read on. Australia is a beautiful place with diverse scenic landscapes, and there’s no shortage of places to visit on Mother’s Day. Many families also choose to celebrate Mother’s Day with a meal, either at home or at a cafe or a restaurant.

Below, we’ve listed out seven top ideas to help inspire you to plan your next Mother’s Day festival with your Mum:

  1. Organise a family lunch or dinner with home-cooked meals
  2. Go shopping (spoil your Mum a little)
  3. Organise a picnic with friends and family
  4. Go out and have fun in the great outdoors. But don’t forget to capture all the memories on a lens
  5. Visit the zoo, art gallery, museum or any other educational sites you or your mother is interested in.
  6. Go to the movies and treat your Mum to a new film
  7. Do something your Mum loves with her

Whatever you choose to do with your Mum on this special day, she’s sure to appreciate the effort you’ve gone to.

Gifts to give on Mother’s Day

In 2020, gift-giving has become an important part of Mother’s Day celebrations for many families.

Anna Jarvis, the woman who is credited with having started Mother’s Day, once said that “Mothers do more for children than anyone else in this world”. For that reason, they deserve to be celebrated and spoiled on this very special day.

The type of gift you give on Mother’s Day is up to you. If you can, invest in something your mother would love, whether that’s a meal out or a tangible gift. But if you can’t, just give hug her and tell her how much you love her. Because, in the end, celebrating Mother’s Day is not about the gift but the intentions behind it.

On the other hand, if you are looking for a truly memorable way to honour your mother, then opting for one of the following suggestions might put a smile on her face:

Personalised photo book: Fill it up with pictures of all your memorable moments

Custom set of skincare products: With so many different skincare products on offer, there’s bound to be one your mother will love. Depending on your budget, you could choose a local Australian product, or opt for a high-end international brand.

Perfumes: Everybody loves perfume, and a gift of your mother’s favourite perfume will make Mother’s Day even more memorable for you and her.

Flowers: In Australia, flowers are a traditional Mother’s Day gift. Traditionally, Carnations and Chrysanthemums are seen as classic Mother’s Day flowers in Australia. Florists sell out of stock quickly on this popular holiday, so it pays to plan ahead. What better way to tell your mother or the mother figure in your life that she is important than to honour her with a bouquet.

Jewellery: If you have a sizeable budget set aside for your Mother’s Day gift, you could consider spoiling your mum with a tangible gift like jewellery. items such as watches, chains, and bracelets are all popular Mother’s Day gifts that are designed to impress.

Kitchen appliances: All of us spend time in the kitchen, and a new appliance can make life easier. So, look around in the kitchen to see if your mom needs a new blender or toaster. Of course, there’s nothing stopping you from buying a kitchen appliance for your dad on Father’s Day, too!

Is Mother’s Day a public holiday in Australia?

Mother’s Day in Australia is not celebrated as an official public holiday. However, because the event is commemorated on a Sunday, many families are able to celebrate it.

mother's day in australia

On Mother’s Day, most Australian businesses observe normal Sunday trading hours. However, due to the popularity of the holiday, you can expect to pay a supplement or surcharge at restaurants and other hospitality venues.

Mother’s Day in Australia typically falls outside of school holidays, often it is mid-way through Term 2 of school for New South Wales and Victoria.

Why do Mother’s Day dates differ between Australia and other countries?

Mother’s Day is a popular holiday in many countries. However, like many holidays, it is celebrated on different dates, depending on where you reside.

A total of 168 countries celebrate Mother’s Day as an established tradition, with the holiday most commonly celebrated in the months of March or May. Just over half of those countries (Australia included) celebrate Mother’s Day on the second Sunday of May. 

The Mother’s Day date in Australia is the same as the date observed in the United States. However, in the UK, Mother’s Day is observed on the fourth Sunday of Lent. This is over one month before Mother’s Day in Australia.

Other countries around the world have adapted an alternate date to celebrate Mother’s Day. The date is commonly determined by historical or religious significance.

Holidays which are similar to Mother’s Day

In a recent survey, almost half of Australians ranked Mother’s Day as their most significant special day of the year. However, despite this, it is not an official public holiday. Other nationally recognised days that are not public holidays include Valentine’s Day and Remembrance Day.

Father’s Day is also held in Australia on the first Sunday of September to celebrate fathers and father figures.

Mother’s Day Frequently Asked Questions

Is Mother’s Day a public holiday in Australia?

No, Mother’s Day is not a public holiday in Australia. However, it is generally celebrated on a Sunday, so you can have fun with your family without worrying about work.

When is Mother’s Day in 2020?

Mother’s Day 2020 has already been observed; it took place on the 10th of May 2020. Mother’s Day is observed on the second Sunday of May each year.

What is the best gift for Mother’s Day?

The best gift is borne out of love, compassion, and happiness. However, if you want to present your mother with something tangible, you could consider spoiling her with flowers, jewellery or perfumes.

Do the shops open on Mother’s Day?

Yes. While many people in Australia celebrate Mother’s Day, shops and services still open as per normal. As Mother’s Day is typically celebrated on a Sunday, be ready for different opening and closing hours.