The United States is known for mother's day celebrations, which falls on the second Sunday of May every year. However, it is true that the festival actually got popular because of florists. Greeting card and gift sellers and likewise, who continuously promoted the event for business. Today, it is one of the major festivals in the USA, and also a popular day for attending church. People remember their mother by wearing carnations. White, if the mother is deceased, and colourful, if she is alive.
However, celebration of mothers day has now spread to most countries, Christian countries in particular, and the second Sunday of May is the most popular date of the festival. Some countries observe it on different dates, and some may have other traditional observance date as well. Below we give a concise account of celebration of Mother's day around the world.
Countries celebrating Mother's Day on the Second Sunday of May, along with USA:
Mother's day became popular in Australia between 1910 and 1924, when it started and took shape. Janet Heyden, a lady from Sydney, started a movement of collecting gifts for old mothers in Newington hospital, who also lost their sons or husbands in WW1. Being in the southern hemisphere, it is autumn in may, and white chrysanthemums are the popular mother's day flower in Australia.
Known as Moederdag or Moederkesdag in Dutch and Fête des Mères in French, Belgium too, celebrates it on the same day as the USA. It is a day of pampering for the mother. Kids make crafts at school, which they can gift to their mom, while husbands go shopping early in the morning to get croissants and other goodies, to get to their wife, while she is still in bed.
People around the city of Antwerp, however, celebrate it on 15 August instead, as campaigned by Frans Van Kuyck, a painter and Alderman, as he felt that celebrating it in May is for commercial reasons, and August 15 is the classical mother's day.
Brazil, another Latin America country celebrates Mother's day in the same spirit as Christmas, with gifts giving, festive mood and frolic. It is not an official holiday, and is more of a commercial holiday. Spending time with the mothers of the family, along with food, drinks and gifts is the primary activity. It is celebrated in the second Sunday of May, and for 2022, the date is 8th May.
Mother's day is included in the official calendar of the Catholic Church in Brazil. The same was decided by Archbishop Jaime de Barros Câmara, Cardinal-Archbishop of Rio de Janeiro in 1947. Celebrations are similar to the celebrations we see elsewhere, and mothers are thanked and showered with gifts and best wishes. It is being celebrated since 1918, when the first Mother's Day was promoted by Associação Cristã de Moços de Porto Alegre.
Canada celebrates the day on the same date and spirit as the United States does, and any mother of the house, be it mother, grandmother or any other mother in the family. There is a Québécois tradition for Québécois men who offer flowers, mostly roses, to the womenfolk, as a token of thanks.
Estonia recognises this festival nationally, but is not a public or official holiday there, which also does not matter, as it is always a Sunday. Gifts giving, family dinners, dining out and sending flowers are common activities for the day. The winters are also at a retreating stage at this time of the year, which makes the celebrations even better.
Observance began in as early as 1923, promoted by one Ms. Alice Masaryková. Celebrations halted after WWII, when the communist regime took over, and the date was shifted to 8th March, coinciding with international women's day. However, power changed hands after the velvet revolution in 1989, and the country split in 1993, after which Czech Republic started celebrating mother's day again on the second Sunday of May, with the usual customs of celebrating, as it should be done.
Finland is one of the few countries, which recognizes mother's day as a national festival and is a public holiday. Known as äitienpäivä in Finnish, the homes that have children, sees the maximum celebrations, where every child makes it a point to wish their moms and grand moms with flowers, cards and gifts. The reciprocation is also galore with cakes, coffee, food and biscuits. Guests are also entertained, with festive moods being everywhere. It is also a time for homecoming, where working people travel to their parent's to spend a day of quality time together. Yes, it is also the custom that they too should carry some flowers and gifts for their parents. The President of Finland also marks this special occasion by honouring mothers with medals, who have been exemplary in their fields.
The event is getting more and more popular with every passing year, as the prosperity of its citizens increases. The festival may have originated in the west, but it reverberates perfectly with the country's ancient value system of honouring mothers, and hence is being accepted with open arms. The Government also had set the day in 1997, to remember and help poor mothers in deep rural regions, which haven't seen the modern developments, as in the western side of the country. Recently, Li Hanqiu, a member of the communist party, had begun to advocate to celebrate the day in memory of Meng Mu, the mother of Mèng Zǐ. He even formed an organization, nongovernmental in nature, called the Chinese Mothers' Festival Promotion Society, with the support of over a 100 lecturers of ethics and Confucian scholars. The primary aim is to shun the western ways of celebrating the day, and replacing them with Chinese ways. Hence carnations happen to be the most popular flowers, and non lilies. (In ancient times, carnations were planted by Chinese mothers when their children left home). The day still is an unofficial festival day. It is celebrated on the same day as in the west, that is, the second Sunday of May.
The land of the diverse and the birthplace of four major religions, India does not see Mother's day as a religious event, but celebrates it with great fervour, wishing and honouring all mothers. It is mostly commercialized, and gift giving, even expensive ones, reaches a new high. The TV soaps also run special mother's day episodes. Movies on the theme are also common at the OTTs. The tradition of honouring mothers, and respect for mothers, is ancient in India and is deeply ingrained. Hence this event had no problems in becoming popular quickly.
Bangladesh has no tradition of celebrating this day, but because of western influence, the festival has caught up, primarily with the urban mass, and the social media active new generations. The major cities in the country, like Dhaka or Chittagong, has the practice of gifting, cutting cakes and wishing mothers. Going to restaurants for family dinners or ordering meals at home is also common. Smaller places generally have the practice of showering wishes and gifting homemade gifts or small gifts to their mothers.
La Festa della Mamma – Italian Mother's Day, is celebrated on the same day as the USA does, that is the second Sunday of May. It was first celebrated 50 years later than it was first celebrated in the USA. A priest (parish) started the tradition in a hillside town in Umbria called Assissi, with festivities to go with it. The aim was to appreciate women for their unconditional love and effort, for improving and building the society. Many in the neighbourhood got the word, and joined the celebrations, helping it to become very, very popular. The success of the event can be assessed from the fact that it was adopted and celebrated across 20 regions of Italy, just one year later.
Today it is a very popular festival, with the telecom activities recording new highs. The day is not as commercialized as in the USA, but it is also true that children who live in far off places, and cannot make it to their home on the day, send gifts and flowers. Most however, aim for a homecoming. It is not a public holiday, but since it always falls on a Sunday, it doesn't really matter.
Japan initially celebrated Haha no Hi, or Japanese Mother's day on the 6th of March, the birthday of Empress Kōjun, who was the mother of Emperor Akihito. It was celebrated in 1931 for the first time, when the Imperial Women's Union was formed.
The first meeting of Praise Mothers however, was held on 8 May, and in 1949, the second Sunday of May was officially adopted for celebration of the event by the Japanese society. Carnations form the most popular flowering gifting item, along with other gifts and greetings, and the event has been moderately commercialized.
Latvia saw their first celebrations in 1922, but after the Soviet occupation, it stopped. It resumed after it was free from Soviet rule, in 1992, and it chose the second Sunday of May as the celebration date.
Following countries celebrate Happy Mother's Day on dates other than the second Sunday of May, mostly on 8th March, coinciding with International Women's day. Some have their own dates though, as explained below:
Mothering Sunday is the term used for mother’s day celebrations in the UK. The custom is centuries old and it originated from the custom of one visiting their ‘Mother’ or Home church, once a year. It was a widely followed practice in the period of Lent. It was also common for youngsters of the UK to work in faraway villages and cities, and the practice culminated much like Thanksgiving, when everyone returned home for family reunion. Naturally, celebrations, fun, frolic and food followed. It was also a custom to have a special cake for the occasion.
In later years, it also became a custom when all domestic helps were given a day off, so that they could also visit their families, and spend quality family time together. Mothering Sunday is observed at a different time than Mother’s day. It is observed on the fourth Sunday of Lent. With the passage of time, the festival became marked for honouring and celebrating mothers, much like Mother’s day celebrations now. Mothers are rewarded and thanked with flowers, cards, gifts and other tokens of appreciation. The biggest gift however, is spending time with mothers.
The entire Middle East and Arabian nations celebrate it on the 21st of March. Interestingly, it was introduced by a journalist called Mustafa Amin, in his book Smiling America, and it was first observed way back in 1956. The country was Egypt. After 1956, it gradually spread from Egypt to the other Arab countries. Today, it is quite popular in large cities like Dubai and Abu Dhabi.
It may be noted that Smiling America was published in 1943, but Mustafa Amin's idea was not accepted at that time. Much later, he heard of a widow, single mother, who faced all the hardships to make her son a doctor, spending all her golden years of life in the process. But the uncouth son, left the mother to her hardships, when he became successful. Amin was deeply moved by the story, and he started the movement again to honour and recognize mothers and their contribution. Initially, president Abdel Gamal Nasser rejected the idea, but later, saw the point, and accepted the same. Soon it was emulated by the other Arab countries, as already mentioned before.
Argentina has a unique date to celebrate mother's day, and the date is not used by any other county to celebrate the event. Argentina celebrates Mom's day on the third Sunday of October. However, previously, it used to celebrate the day 11 October, as it was the old liturgical date, or the commemoration of the maternity of Virgin Mary. However, the second Vatican council moved the celebration of maternity of Virgin Mary to the first of January. So Argentina decided to shaft mother's day celebration to the third Sunday of October, as the day had old traditions associated with it.
The tradition of celebrating the day in Armenia is unique as well, as it celebrates Beauty and Maternity day on the 7th of April, while it celebrates Mother's day the very next day, that is on 8th March.
8th March is also the celebration day for the event in all the Balkan and East European countries, like Albania, and celebrations merge together with International Women's day observance as well.
Belarus celebrates the day on 14th October, from 1996, when it was first celebrated, as it was officially established by the government of Belarus. Previously, like in other communist countries, it used to observe International women's day only, on 8th March. It is to be noted that 14th October is also the day for observance of the holiday of Protection of the Holy Mother of God, or the celebration of Virgin Mary.
Bhutan, a country nestled in the Himalayas, and the happiest country of the globe which has negative carbon footprints, celebrates the day on 8th May, as a tourism initiative by the Government of Bhutan. It falls on the period when Bhutan witnesses the maximum tourism traffic.
El Día de la Madre Boliviana, or Bolivian Mother's Day is celebrated on 27th May, to remember the May 27, 1812, one of the most heroic and sublime event, when, hundreds of courageous Cochabamba women sealed with their blood the will for freedom and independence from the Spanish, at a time when Bolivia and entire Latin America was subjected to subhuman exploitation, death and genocide.
Today it is a special occasion in which flower shops and bakeries offer their products, the roads are packed with gifts and cards that bring out the feeling of thanking our Mom. No mothers are left out, be it grandmothers, great-grandmothers, aunts, cousins and sisters who are mothers. The family gets together on Mother's Day and celebrates it with a very special lunch or dinner. Married couples, and people out of their hometowns also often take the time to visit each of their mothers, turning it into an event of homecoming.
In the schools, the students, together with their teachers, prepare cards, crafts, learn poetry and songs, and then invite the Mothers to school for a very special presentation in which the children usually share a gift, cake and other delicacies with their mothers.
Ethiopia takes mother's day celebrations very seriously and it is celebrated for straight three days, sometime in mid-fall, which locals call Antrosht, or the three day feast.
Children play an active role in Antrosht, as it is they who bring the ingredients for the traditional hash recipe. The ingredients are also divided by gender among the children. The girls are entrusted with bringing the vegetables, butter and cheese and required spices, while the boys are responsible for the lamb or bull for the meat. After the hash is prepared, it is generally the mothers who hand them out. Celebrations galore after the feast. A common practice of celebration is mothers anoint butter on the faces and chests of their daughter and vice versa. Men sing songs, honouring the family heroes and the mothers.
The history and tradition of celebrating the day in France is quite different from the other nations.
The French celebrate it on a different day, on the last Sunday of May, and call it Fête des Mères.
It originated from the era of Napoleon, when in 1806, Emperor Napoleon declared the special day in honour of the mothers of large families, recognizing their service and sacrifices. However, it died down, after Napoleon was ousted from power. Never=the-les, after WWI, the practice was revived, and an official Mother's Day observance was carried out at Lyon. The purpose was a little different though, it was observed to honour the sacrifice of the women, who were widowed because of the war.
The Government of France recognised Mother's Day officially in 1929.
It was way down in 1941, the Vichy Regime selected the ultimate Sunday of May every year as the official Mother's Day celebration date.
Nine years later, a law was passed into effect, which stated:
"Every year, the French Republic pays an official tribute to Mothers during a special day dedicated to the celebration of Mother's Day".
Today, France, from its every municipality, honours every mother of large families, on this day. It is by way of a special medal called la Médaille de la Famille. Mothers receive Gold, Silver or Bronze medal, according to following:
Eight or more children: Gold Medal
Six or Seven Children: Silver medal
Four or Five Children: Bronze medal
Note that all mothers are honoured, irrespective of their family size. It was in the 1950ies that the event lost its natalist ideologies, and became heavily commercialized.
Today, florists enjoy 30% of their annual turnover, on this single day, and average spends in flowers and gifts crosses 50 Euros.
Also, the most common activity is bringing presents to the mom, or maman. Like in other countries, flowers, cards, jewellery are common, and being France, perfumes are most frequent gifting items. The best part is, like secret Santa, children secretly prepare gifts for their moms, and give them to her on the day.
Though not a public holiday, the day is as important as other Christian holidays like Pentecost and Ascension.
The history of Mother's day in Germany has a lot to do with declining population and WWII.
In the earlier part of the 20th century, Germany was witnessing the lowest birth-rate in Europe, owing to the most progressive women workforce in the world, and massive participation in the labour market. The influential members of the society, including the feminist groups, agreed on the point of honouring the women who choose to be mothers, and hence readily adopted Muttertag, or the Mother's day celebration as in USA. It was expected that observance of such a day would bring back family values, and help in uniting the divided country. The commercial aspect of the event was nullified, and focus was emphasizing the need to increase German population and promotion of motherhood. Thus the holiday was a tool of encouragement to have more children and rejuvenate the nation's population. It was not about celebrating women as an individual, but rather motherhood, in her ideal standard. Naturally, it drew the ire of progressive citizens and media, and people who thought that this was a means to stop women from building their careers. For example, Die Frau, the newspaper of the Federation of German Women's Associations, did not recognize the event. It may be noted that 1922 was Mother's Day for the first time in Germany, while it was officially declared a state holiday in 1933, to be celebrated on the second Sunday of May.
It may not be celebrated on the second Sunday every year though. If Pentecost (Pfingstsonntag) – the Christian festival for celebrating the descent of the Holy Spirit falls on Second Sunday, then Mother's day celebrations are preponed to the first Sunday.
By the end of second world war, and disappearance of the Nazis, however, the neutral spirit of celebration and honour took over from focus on increasing population, and Mother's day were seen as a day to wish all mothers with cards gifts and flowers, from their children. The tradition of giving the Cross of Honour, which was in vogue from 1939 to 1945, by the German Reich, was also abolished.
Now, happy mother's receive phone calls, get gifts and flowers, and have good meals together, as in other parts of the western world. It is also customary to offer white flowers at the graves of deceased mothers. Chocolates, perfumes, cards, flowers, travelling tickets, surprise visits etc form the chunk of the popular gifts.
Indonesia celebrates the day on 22nd December. It was made official by President Sukarno, on the 25th anniversary of Women congress of Indonesia. At that time, the aim was to improve the condition of the mothers of the nation and a general uplift of the spirits. However, as time progressed, the country progressed economically as well, and the celebrations have taken a new hew, as in western countries. Now, love and gratitude are showered on mothers, along with material gifts like flowers, little gifts, perfumes and chocolates. Surprise parties and competitions are held as well, that are participated by all. Kebaya wearing and cooking are common activities. And of course, mothers are gifted with a day off from the household chores.
Iran used to celebrate Mother's day on 16th December, but after the Iranian revolution in 1979, it is celebrated on the 20th day of the sixth month of the Islamic calendar. Since Islamic calendar is a lunar calendar, the dates are always different, when compared with the common Gregorian calendar. The day is taken as a celebration of Mother's day, as well as women's day.
Ireland, like the UK's Mothering Sunday, celebrates it on the fourth Sunday of Lent. Celebrations are verbatim as in any advanced country as in the USA. It may be noted that the practice of observing the day had faded out in the late 18th Century. However, in the 1950ies, rapid American influence brought back the celebration into practice, and made it popular.
Israel used to celebrate Mother's day on the death anniversary of Henrietta Szold, who died on 13th February, 1945. According to the Jewish calendar, it is 30th Shevat, and falls somewhere between 30th January and 1st March according to the Gregorian calendar.
Henrietta Szold was a hero, who had saved many Jewish children from sure death at the Nazi hands, and provided for them. She also crusaded for the rights of children. And she had no biological child of her own. Henrietta Szold is considered the true mother of all the children she saved and made a difference with, hence her remembrance day or her death anniversary was naturally selected as mother's day, or yom ha'em.
However, Judaism already has a Mother's day according to Jewish liturgical calendar. The death of matriarch Rachel, on the 11th of the Hebrew month, is regarded as the Jewish Mothers day. She was shown as the ideal mother by the prophet Jeremiah. She has always wept for her children, doesn't get consoled for her children when they are gone, and always takes care of them. She became identified with the Divine and the spiritual mother (Shekhina).
The event is, however, NOT commercialized, as it is against the Jewish culture. It is a family day, celebrating mutual love inside the family. Preschools have special activities, where the day is celebrated with children. There is no system of gifting gifts or flowers. It is also not an official holiday.
Lithuania celebrated for the first time in 1928. First Sunday of May is the date of celebration
Día de las Madres, Mother's day in Mexico, is held on 10th May every year, and is an unofficial holiday.
It is a day of massive celebrations, and one must plan ahead to stay up to the celebrations. Singing, fun, frolic, food and activities form the bulk of the celebrations. The traditional song, or "una canción," for the morning of Mother's Day is known as "Las Mañanitas'" or "The Dawn, and is the most commonly sung song on the morning of Mother's day. It is expected that children would be present at their mother's home and wake her up with this song. skits, dances, or other sweet homely shows are also accompanied to make the mother feel special. Mothers are celebrated as queens of the home, or Las Reinas de la casa. Queen of feast, an elaborate dinner ceremony especially for the mother, is also common. Flowers and gifts follow. Schools organize entertainment and respect giving programs, where students showcase their talents and win applause. Churches hold special masses. Family dinners are a must, with delicacies like quesadillas, sopes, cochinita, enchiladas, pozoles and mole. In the event family dinners cannot be made at home, restaurants do the job.
Some popular Mother's Day Quotes in Mexico (Mexican):