As Mother’s Day is approaching, people around the world are preparing to honor and appreciate their own mothers. However, Mother’s Day also occurs at different times depending on their culture. In the United States, people generally celebrate the day by gifting flowers, cards, and jewelry to mom.
How do we celebrate Mother’s Day around the world?
How Does Europe Celebrate Mother’s Day?
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 moms everywhere.
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. 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.
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.
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.
When: 2nd Sunday of May (Springtime during the time of Ancient Greece)
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?
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 church. It is now the 2nd most profitable day for Brazilian retail, after Christmas!
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?
When: Mid-Fall (End of Rainy Season)
Alternative Name: Antrosht
To celebrate both the end of the rainy season and the mothers of the community, Ethiopians host a three-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.
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 mom for all of her sacrifices and hard work.
How Does Asia Celebrate Mother’s Day?
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 moms with red carnations to represent the strong yet gentle soul that a Japanese mother possess. Children also draw pictures for their mothers at school and sometimes even participate in art competitions!
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, Mother’s Day is also celebrated in major cities across the country.
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.
People 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 carnation in Japan).