Mother’s Day is always on the second Sunday in May—a welcome occasion to take a closer look at this Day. Mothers’ Day is celebrated worldwide, but not in the same way everywhere. There are differences in many countries as far as the date is concerned. How this special Day is celebrated also varies from country to country. We have taken a closer look at customs and traditions for Mother’s Day worldwide!
WHERE DOES MOTHER’S DAY COME FROM?
As far back as ancient Greece, celebrations were held in honor of Rhea, the mother of all gods.
In the 13th century, King Henry III introduced ” Mothering Day ” in England. The original idea was to pay homage to the church as a religious mother. Soon, this Day was also used to gather and spend the Day with the family to honor mothers. However, this custom was lost again in the meantime.
Mother’s Day, as we know it today, dates back to the American women’s movement. Mother’s Day’s founder is the American Anna Marie Jarvis, who organized a memorial day in Grafton (West Virginia) on May 12, 1907, in honor of her mother, who had died two years earlier. To establish a day of recognition for all mothers, a service was held the following year at the local Methodist Church, where 500 white carnations were distributed to all mothers in attendance.
In subsequent years, Anna Jarvis organized a nationwide campaign to establish Honor Day for Mothers in all American states. Thanks to the support of business people, clergy members, women’s clubs, and politicians, President Woodrow Wilson finally made Mother’s Day an official holiday in 1914, to be held every year on the second Sunday in May.
Soon after, the idea spread to Europe – first to England, Scandinavia, and Switzerland. For example, Mother’s Day was introduced by the Association of German Flower Shop Owners initiative in Germany in 1923.
OTHER COUNTRIES, OTHER CUSTOMS
In more than 70 countries worldwide, Mother’s Day highlights the role of mothers in society. Although the festival of Mother is celebrated on the second Sunday in May in many countries, there are some exciting exceptions where Mother’s Day falls on other dates.
MOTHER’S DAY INTERNATIONAL – COUNTRY DATE
Germany, Austria, Switzerland 2nd Sunday in May
Netherlands 2nd Sunday in May
France last Sunday in May
Great Britain and Ireland 4th Sunday before Easter
Italy 2nd Sunday in May
Spain 1st Sunday in May
Greece 2nd Sunday in May
Russia March 8 or last Sunday in November
Latvia 2nd Sunday in May
Mongolia June 1
Japan 2nd Sunday in May
Ethiopia 2nd Sunday in May
Mexico May 10
Country overview of when Mother’s Day is celebrated in different corners of the world.
MOTHER’S DAY IN EUROPE
AUSTRIA, GERMANY, AND SWITZERLAND
Mother’s Day is not a public holiday in Germany, Austria, and Switzerland. However, it is always on a Sunday. Mother’s Day is traditionally celebrated in German-speaking countries on the second Sunday in May. Most mothers wish to spend time with their family on this Day. No matter whether comfortably at home or with an excursion. The main thing is that the Day is spent together. Popular gifts are, as in most other countries, flowers (roses, orchids, tulips, or lilies) and chocolates. An invitation to a restaurant or a spa day is also trendy. After all, mom should be appropriately pampered!
Moederdag is celebrated in the Netherlands on the second Sunday in May. Traditionally, children bring their mother breakfast in bed and surprise her with homemade gifts. Weather permitting, the Day is spent with the family, and there is also a barbecue. Flowers are at the top of the gift list in the land of tulips, as in most countries.
With the arrival of American soldiers during World War I, Mother’s Day also became established in France. In 1950, the Fêtes des Mères became an official holiday, celebrated on the last Sunday in May. Should this fall on Pentecost, Mother’s Day is moved to the first Sunday in June. The celebrations are similar to those in Germany. Flowers, chocolates, and cards are given, and the family spends the Day together, eating cake and reading poetry.
GREAT BRITAIN AND IRELAND
Mothering Day has been known in England since the 13th century, as previously mentioned. Today, Mother’s Day in the United Kingdom and Ireland falls on the fourth Sunday before Easter. On this Day, small gifts such as cards, flowers, and confectionery are standard. A special almond cake called Mothering Cake is also baked to be eaten with the family.
Festa della Mamma is celebrated on the second Sunday in May. As everyone knows, Italy is very family-oriented, so the Mamma is also honored. The family celebrates the Day with homemade delicacies, flowers, and sweets.
Día de la Madre is celebrated on the first Sunday in May in Spain. As in most countries, children give their mothers flowers, chocolates, or homemade trifles they have prepared at school. Most Spaniards gather in restaurants on this Day to honor all the mothers in the family.
Greeks decorate the whole house with flowers on the second Sunday of May. Mother’s Day tradition includes eating homemade honey cake together with the family.
Mother’s Day in Poland (Dzień Matki) is not necessarily celebrated on Sundays. Instead, people always pay homage to mothers on May 26. Here, too, there are usually bouquets, sweet treats, and handicrafts made by the little or not-so-little ones.
In the former Soviet Union, there was no special Mother’s Day. Mothers were honored on March 8, International Women’s Day. Then in 1998, Russia introduced Mother’s Day on the last Sunday in November. Nevertheless, today most women and mothers still receive gifts, such as flowers or chocolates, on March 8.
Mātes diena (Mother’s Day in Latvian) is a public holiday in the Baltic state that falls on the second Sunday in May. As in neighboring Estonia and Lithuania, families in Latvia gather to present mothers with a bouquet and chocolates.
Instead of Mother’s Day, Mongolia celebrates Mother and Child Day. This takes place every year on June 1 and is for families to spend time together and appreciate each other.
In the 1930s and 1940s, Haha no Hi (母の日(ははのひ) was celebrated in the Land of the Rising Sun on March 6, the birthday of Empress Kōjun. The mother of the current Emperor Akihito was the longest-living wife of an emperor in Japanese history. It is only since the post-war period that Mother’s Day has been celebrated on the second Sunday of May in Japan. Red carnations are often presented as gifts. This popular type of flower stands for gratitude and pure love and has become a holiday symbol. Especially interesting: white carnations are taboo because they are intended for funerals. Children also pamper their mothers with massages or take care of house cleaning.
In this East African country, there is no fixed date for Mothers’ Day. It depends on the start of the rainy season, which begins in October or November. On Mother’s Day, children visit their mothers for several days. They celebrate, eat, sing and dance together.
In Mexico, the family and especially mothers have a particularly high value. Día de la Madre is therefore one of the most popular festivals in Mexico and is celebrated throughout the country on May 10. Special events are held in schools, churches and generally in all towns and villages. Tradition-minded Mexicans gather on the eve of Mother’s Day to honor their mothers. Flowers are an absolute must. The entire family celebrates with a big meal, usually in restaurants – Mother’s Day is the restaurant industry’s busiest Day of the year. Mariachis are also a part of it, serenading mothers with the familiar “Las Mañanitas.”
MAMA IS THE BEST!
So no matter what Day Mother’s Day is celebrated worldwide, all countries have one thing in common. The desire to do something good for one’s mother and show her how important she is to one is at the top of the list worldwide. After all, the mother is one of the most influential people in our lives! That could also be a completed lottery ticket this year – that much self-promotion is allowed.
A curious common feature is that the word for mother in many languages begins with an “M”: Mama, Mom, Maman, Mamma, Mamá… It is not a coincidence. “Ma” is among the first sounds a baby can produce. The bond between mother and child is extraordinary: we wish all mothers a wonderful Mother’s Day. Let us spoil you!
- hector pascua with reports from fleurop.de/infografik-zum-muttertag
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