Mother’s Day Around the World
In the UK, Mother’s Day has developed its own pattern. Evolving from a religious occasion into a day for us all to simply reflect on the many things that our mums do for us, and say ‘thank you’. With sweet treats, flowers, and – when we’re allowed to – some form of family meal, individual family traditions develop, but they usually have a similar shape. And that got us to thinking about how other countries celebrate. With March 14th fast approaching, let’s take a look at some of the ways other countries pay tribute to motherhood.
How Mother’s Day is Celebrated Around the World
America, Australia and Canada
Marked in May, Mother’s Day in the USA, Canada and Australia strongly resembles the current British format. Following a movement by Anna Jarvis, it began being celebrated in 1908, as a way of honouring the sacrifices mothers make for their children. President Woodrow Wilson signed a measure officially establishing the second Sunday in May as Mother’s Day in 1914, and it was quickly adopted throughout America. Unfortunately, Anna came to lament her success, detesting the commercialisation of the ‘holiday’. But by that point, it was too well-established to prevent.
Canada celebrated its first Mother’s Day in 1911.
Australia celebrated its first Mother’s Day in 1924. The chrysanthemum has become synonymous with Mother’s Day.
In Japan, Mother’s Day has slightly different connotations. It was originally celebrated in acknowledgement of the birthday of Empress Kōjun (6th March 1903). But in 1949, the date was changed to the second Sunday in May, and the celebration came to resemble those of its western counterparts. While a wide array of gifts are now presented to mothers across Japan on this date, traditionalists still give their mums a bouquet of carnations.
Throughout the former Soviet Union, March 8th was acknowledged as International Women’s Day. It’s an event that has since been adopted into the international calendar, promoting gender equality and celebrating women and their achievements. In 1998, post-Soviet Russia introduced Mother’s Day on the last Sunday in November. But most people still give gifts to their mum on March 8th.
Like many of Greece’s traditions, Mother’s Day celebrations date back to the ancients, and a spring festival for the goddesses Rhea and Gaia. While Ann Jarvis’ influence can also be found here, with the second Sunday in May being the official Greek Mother’s Day, celebrations traditionally include wine, music and dancing… Which actually sounds much more fun!
In Mexico, Mother’s Day is apparently one of the most important days of the year for the hospitality industry. And it’s a big deal throughout. Celebrations begin with a morning serenade, sometimes with a full mariachi band – so much for that lie-in! – followed by flowers, fine dining, and general revelry. To say that British celebrations look understated in comparison is, well, an understatement!
Celebrated in February, Norway’s Mother’s Day is probably the closest to the British, in terms of origin and style. It began as a religious celebration, and is now commonly marked with breakfast in bed, flowers, and a gift or a cake.
Like Mexico, in the Dominican Republic, Mother’s Day is a real event. Whole families and multiple generations of mothers get together. Not just to eat and chat, but to sing and dance, and enjoy each other’s company. Mother’s Day falls on the last Sunday in May.
In Egypt, Mother’s Day is a relatively new tradition, only being established in 1956. Here, it is held on the first day of spring, and is marked by the giving of gifts and flowers.
Every mother is different. And we all have our own unique experiences. To remember. To cherish. To repent. Or to resent. Often all four, or more. But the one universal factor is that without our mothers, we simply wouldn’t be here. That’s why mothers, motherhood, and Mother’s Day are globally celebrated. The poet, Maya Angelou once said, “to describe my mother would be to write about a hurricane in its perfect power.” And we believe that the world is full of such hurricanes. So, don’t forget to celebrate yours this Mother’s Day.