As Mother’s Day is approaching, people around the world are preparing to celebrate their own mothers. However, Mother’s Day also occurs at different times depending on their culture. In the United States, people are often gifted with flowers, cards, and jewelry. In fact, approximately 77% of people are going to gift mothers a greeting card, and Mother’s Day is the 3rd most popular occasion to gift greeting cards (behind Christmas and Valentine’s Day). 39% of surveyed Americans are going to gift their superstar moms a piece of jewelry, while over 60% of Americans are going to gift a bouquet of roses.

How do we celebrate Mother’s Day around the world?

Global Map of Mother's Day Traditions

How does Europe Celebrate Mother’s Day?

United Kingdom

When: 4th Sunday of Lent

Alternative Name: Mothering Sunday

Mothering Sunday started during Medieval Times when child workers were allowed to visit home once during Lent. People would leave the Virgin Mary with flowers at Church while spoiling their mothers. Today, people often gift flowers, presents, and cards while spending time with family for Mothering Sunday. Another British tradition is to bake Simnel Cakes (or Mothering Cakes) for mothers everywhere.

simnel cake

Germany

When: 2nd Sunday of May

Alternative Name: Muttertag

Germany first officially celebrated Mother’s Day in 1922 after the Swiss brought the holiday to Europe in 1917. Unlike America’s Mother’s Day, Muttergag also celebrates love and gratitude as well. However, Germans did not properly acknowledge Mother’s Day until WWII as a way to show gratitude for mothers maintaining the population during the war. Mothers of larger families were gifted medals as well! Today, giving cards and enjoying festive meals are a must when celebrating Muttertag.

France

When: 2nd Sunday of May (1st Sunday of June if it falls on Pentecost)

Alternative Name: Fete des Meres (Day of Mothers)

Like Germany, the French also gave medals to moms of large families as a symbol of gratitude for “rebuilding their population”. Celebrations started in 1950 after it became an official holiday. Today, French children surprise their mothers with breakfast-in-bed, gifts, and flower-shaped cakes.

Serbia

When: 2nd Sunday before Christmas

Serbians spend three days acknowledging mothers as part of a consecutive series of holidays (including Children’s Day and Father’s Day). Their main tool for celebrating any of these holidays is rope. Moms would often get tied up and must gift yummy treats and small gifts to children in exchange for her freedom.

Greece

When: 2nd Sunday of May (During Springtime during the Ancient Greeks time)

Alternative Name: Festival for Mother Goddesses

During the time of Ancient Greece, there would be spring festivals honoring Rhea and Gaia. There would be music, wine, and dancing while worshipping the Mother Goddesses. Today, Mother’s Day is just another day to spoil Greek moms.

How does South America Celebrate Mother’s Day?

Brazil

When: 2nd Sunday of May

Mother’s Day was added to the official calendar by the government in 1932. Later, the Catholic Archbishop recognized the day in 1947. Children perform shows dedicated to their mothers while people gather at the church. It is now the 2nd most profitable day for Brazilian retail, after Christmas!

brazil church

Peru

When: 2nd Sunday of May

Unlike many other Mother’s Day traditions, Peruvians celebrate all mothers (including mothers who has passed) with flowers. However, the Andean population spends the day to celebrate Pachamama (or the Mother Earth Goddess).

How does Africa Celebrate Mother’s Day?

Ethiopia

When: Mid- Fall (End of Raining Season)

Alternative Name: Antrosht

To celebrate both the end of the rainy season and the mothers of the community, Ethiopians host a 3-day festival and feast on hash meals. While girls are in charge of bringing the butter, cheese, vegetables, and spices, boys are in charge of bringing the bull or the lamb used in the feast. Mom’s job is preparing the tasty meal.

ethiopia mother

Egypt

When: First Day of Spring in the Northern Hemisphere

Mustafa Amin is a journalist who first introduced the concept of “Mother’s Day” to Egypt in a 1943 book called “Smiling America.” However, it was met with intense criticism and backlash for attempting to strip Egypt’s culture and globalizing the community. It wasn’t until 60 years later that Mother’s Day was formally accepted into mainstream Egyptian culture in 1996. Today, Mother’s Day in Egypt is all about spoiling and praising the mother for all of her sacrifices and hard work.

How does Asia Celebrate Mother’s Day?

Japan

When: 2nd Sunday of May (or March 6th)

Mother’s Day in Japan was to commemorate Empress Kōjun on her birthday during the Shōwa Period. However, the first modern celebration of Mother’s Day started in 1913 and stopped briefly during WWII. Nowadays, Japanese gift their mothers with red carnations to represent the strength yet gentle soul that a Japanese mother possess. Children also draw pictures for their mothers at school and sometimes even enter into art competitions!

red carnations

India

When: October

Alternative Name: Navrati

The nine-night celebration is dedicated to the Hindu goddess Durga and represents the nine forms of Devi. Though the tradition celebrates victory over evil, Western Mother’s Day is also celebrated in major cities across the country.

Thailand

When: August 12th

The day celebrates the Queen of Thailand’s birthday (Queen Sirikit). The Mother’s Day holiday is used to promote the Royal Family across the country.

China

People under the Communist rule were initially prohibited from celebrating Mother’s Day as it ran counter to tradition. However, the government eventually grew accepting and formally allowed celebration in 1996. Some sources say that lilies are the unofficial flower of Chinese Mother’s Day as it represents the gentle yet strong soul of a mother (similar to the Japanese’s carnation).

lillies

Share your Mother’s Day traditions in the comments below!