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Mother’s Day, in the US, is May 9th. It’s a day for honoring and appreciating our mothers.
I wanted to know what other cultures do, to honor mothers. My curiosity led me to countries around the world, and a wide range of celebrations.
Mother’s Day Traditions Around the World is a fun sampling of what I found.
In the UK, Mothering Sunday is the fourth Sunday of Lent. The holiday originated from an earlier custom in which families who had moved away returned to the “mother” church they used to attend. By the 1700s the holiday shifted into a day for house servants to return home to spend the day with their mothers.
Today Mothering Sunday is still strongly connected to the church however the focus is on mothers and families. Many churches hand out daffodils for children to give to their mums. And girls in the family traditionally bake Simnel cakes…luscious fruitcakes…for the entire family to enjoy.
Mother’s Day falls on the second Sunday in May, in the US. We have a variety of traditions from serving Mom breakfast in bed to giving her cards, handmade or purchased gifts and bouquets of flowers.
Our version of Mother’s Day began in 1908 when Anna Jarvis imagined a day set aside to honor all the sacrifices mothers make. Anna’s mother, Ann, started Mother’s Work Day Clubs, an organization that taught women how to properly care for their children.
With persistence, Anna’s idea led to the first official Mother’s Day on the second Sunday in May, 1914.
Today Mother’s Day is an important celebration in the US. Mothers receive recognition, cards, gifts, flowers and dinners out.
Mother’s Day in France is celebrated on the last Sunday of May or the first Sunday in June. Their holiday originated during the Napoleonic Era, when families with a large number of children received medals.
Some regions in France still present moms with traditional medals on Mother’s Day. A more modern celebration involves baking or buying Mom a cake shaped like a flower bouquet. Children also gift their mothers perfume, jewelry, chocolates and handmade gifts.
In Peru, Mother’s Day is a week long celebration leading up to the actual holiday on the second Sunday in May. Families organize events such as trips, dinners, lunches and parties throughout the week. Art exhibits and musical performances are common too during those seven days.
Mothers attend these activities and festivities, museums and exhibits, free of charge. Children present moms with gifts and flowers and may recite poetry and stories.
Peru also honors their deceased mothers. People take balloons and flowers to cemeteries and place them on the graves of mothers, grandmothers and wives.
The origins of Mother’s Day, or La Dia de la Madre, in Mexico has a story behind it. The Mexican magazine, El Hogar, met with the Association of Catholic Ladies and published an article about motherhood and traditional Mexican values. This happened in conjunction with mothers venturing out into the professional world and choosing to have fewer children.
The first Mother’s Day, May 10, 1922, was celebrated in support of this campaign.
Today families go out to eat on Mother’s Day, typically for lunch. They listen to music together and children give their mothers flowers, candies or small gifts. They sometimes perform a play, to show their love and appreciation.
The earliest Mother’s Day in Japan was held in March, 1913. However, the celebration ceased during World War II. Afterwards, Mother’s Day became a time to comfort mothers who lost children during the war.
Today all mothers are celebrated in Japan. Children give their moms carnations to symbolize purity, love and endurance. Traditionally, they gave red carnations to their living mothers and they displayed white carnations if their mothers had passed away. White carnations are now the favored color for all mothers.
Kids also do the household chores for the day and prepare meals.
The Antrosht Festival, observed yearly during the fall rainy season, is dedicated to mothers.
Families gather for large meals. Daughters traditionally bring vegetables and cheeses while sons supply the meat. Together the children prepare a hash. Later they sing and perform dances that tell the stories of their families.
Mother’s Day is called La Festa della Mamma in Italy. Mothers are highly esteemed throughout the year in Italy. However, on Mother’s Day…the second Sunday in May…mamma is pampered even more.
Families gather for a meal together. If someone can’t make it for the meal, they must call. Children give small gifts, fresh flowers…traditionally roses…and handwritten poetry. Dessert after the meal is a heart shaped cake.
The Indonesian Mother’s Day is celebrated late in the year, on December 22. The holiday began as a time to recognize the spirit of Indonesian women and honor their achievements.
Today Mother’s Day honors all mothers. It’s a time to show great love and appreciation. Mother’s take the day off from household chores and children bring them gifts and flowers.
Germany’s Mother Day is called Muttertag and it’s also celebrated on the second Sunday in May. It’s origins date back to the Middle Ages when relatives visited and wished each other a happy spring. During the German Reich, mothers who bore four or more children were presented with a Cross of Honor.
Today the celebration honors all mothers regardless of the number of children. Kids bring colorful flowers to their moms…the more colorful the better…and gifts and cards are common too. German mothers are often surprised with travel tickets! They then get to revisit a favorite place or experience a new part of the world.
What Are Your Mother’s Day Traditions?
As a kid, I loved making gifts for my mom. I cringe when I think of some of those “creations” but I poured my heart into them. Typically, my sisters and I take Mom out to eat now, when we aren’t experiencing a pandemic. This year we are having a big “work in the yard” day at her house.
My kids used to make homemade cards and bring me breakfast in bed. As adults they call, text or surprise me a gift.
I love the different traditions that I learned about. Of course, the German custom of gifting trips is amazing to me! However, I love the gifts of handwritten poetry, singing and performing plays. They seem so personal.
What are your favorite Mother’s Day traditions? Do you take your mom out to eat? Do your kids bring you breakfast in bed?
Looking for thoughtful gifts for Mom? Check out this post!
And did you know you can order fresh flowers from Amazon and have them delivered to your mother? Click picture below to get started!
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5 Replies to “Mother’s Day Traditions Around the World”
These are so interesting! I loved reading about traditions around the world. I, too, would love some travel tickets! Flowers and meals are nice, too.
I love all these different Mother’s Day traditions from around the world. We typically go out for lunch or dinner the day before and my guys typically give me flowers and a meaningful gift.
Hmmmm…. the German tradition of giving travel tickets needs to be addressed in my household! LOL… I may have to collect retroactively… 4 kids x 22 years of motherhood = a fab vacation! LOL
This is fun to read about all the mother’s day traditions. I like to relax and honestly just want someone else to clean my house!
I love the different traditions! Mom’s being celebrated is the whole point!