Mother's Day Traditions Around the World
No matter where you are from in this great big world of ours, there’s one thing we all have in common - we all have a mother.
Mother’s Day is celebrated in the UK on “Mothering Sunday” which falls on the fourth Sunday in Lent, three weeks before Easter. This is a time when mothers and other maternal figures such as stepmothers, grandmothers and mothers-in-law have been celebrated and appreciated.
The UK tradition actually has religious origins and it came from a custom of visiting your “mother” church on this particular Sunday. Over the years the day turned into a family reunion and a chance for children who were working away from the home to return and visit their mothers.
Meanwhile, in the USA social activist Anna Jarvis was lobbying the government for the creation of the modern mother’s day as we know it today. Constance Smith, a vicar’s daughter in the UK, read a 1913 newspaper article about Jarvis’s campaign and started a push for an official day for mothers in England.
Over the next couple of decades, Mother’s Day became a popular tradition and started to become more commercial (which Jarvis was not pleased with, she said she wanted it to be a day of “sentiment, not profit.”
So what about Mothers Day around the world? Is this holiday celebrated in other cultures? Let’s take a look at how Mother’s Day is celebrated in other countries worldwide.
A version of Mother’s Day originated in Japan after the Second World War as a way of comforting mothers who had lost their sons in the war. During this holiday mothers are given carnations, as they represent a mother’s kindness and patience. The tradition is to give your mother red carnations, or to display a white carnation if your mother has passed away.
Other traditional gifts that mothers in Japan might receive include red or pink kimonos, perfumes or decorative mother and baby dolls. It is also common for the family to go out for a meal on this special day.
In Mexico, Mother’s Day is celebrated on May 10th. When the concept of Mother’s Day was brought into Mexico at first in 1922 from the USA, it was discouraged by the conservative government at the time as women were believed to be simply for breeding and not worthy of being celebrated with a special day. However, this notion changed and it is now regarded as a significant holiday.
Typically, adult children take their mother out for dinner and this is one of the busiest nights of the year for restaurants in Mexico. The other traditions associated with the day include giving flowers and enjoying live music by mariachi singers. In many of the local schools there will be Mother’s Day events where skits and songs are performed by the children to express their gratitude to their mothers.
The Thai people celebrate the birthday of Her Majesty Queen Sirikit on August 12th. Since the Queen is regarded as a mother figure to all Thai people, this is also considered a type of Mother’s Day. Since 1976 this day has been associated with celebrations honouring mothers.
On this day, people all over Thailand will decorate their houses with flags and portraits of the Queen. The main streets in Bangkok will be lit up with lights and decorations and there will be a firework display at the Grand Palace. There will also be a parade procession to the King’s Palace, accompanied by a marching band. The procession will present flowers to the representative of the Queen and then the band will play a song called “Mother of the Kingdom.”
The Thai people also mark this day by showing appreciation to their own mothers. A traditional gift for mothers here is white jasmine flowers, as they symbolise the purity of a mother’s love. Also, it is customary to do acts of charity or give donations and offerings to monks on this day.
Mother’s Day in Germany is called “Muttertag” and it occurs on the second Sunday in May (or on the first Sunday of May if it falls on Pentecost.) The tradition of Mother’s Day in Germany is mainly a political one, as it was a day to honour women who had produce children for the Fatherland. Women were given medals of bronze, silver or gold depending on how many children they had.
However, after the way these political connotations went away and Mother’s Day became similar to the holiday we are familiar with - a time to give gifts of appreciation to our mothers.
The people of Ethiopia celebrate a form of Mother’s Day as well. It takes place during the end of the rainy season, during the three day festival of Antrosht - which is dedicated to mothers. It happens during the autumn, unlike most other Mother’s Day festivals that take place in the spring.
It is during this time of year when the weather clears up and the skies empty of rain, so family members will come home and celebrate by sharing a large feast together. Traditionally the sons will bring meat such as bull or lamb and the daughters will bring butter, spices, cheese and vegetables. After the meal there will be ceremonial dances and songs. The cycle of feasting and dancing lasts the entire three days!
How do you celebrate Mother’s Day?
These are just a few examples of how Mother’s Day is celebrated all over the world. Although these festivals and traditions are very different - they all have one important theme at their core. They are all devoted to honouring mothers and thanking them for the love and support that they provide.