What is Mother’s Day?
Mother’s Day is a day that focuses on celebrating and honoring mothers and maternal figures for all they do. It’s a day that asks people to show gratitude to maternal figures for their effect on our personal lives and work in society.
This celebration changes worldwide depending on which country you are in. But all focus on demonstrating love and appreciation for mothers.
Why are there different dates for Mother’s Day around the world?
Mother’s Day worldwide falls on different dates at different times of the year. Some of them line up, following the official Mother’s Day date set by the United Nations of the second Sunday in May. Others have their traditional holidays and celebrations, also called Mother’s Day.
Many countries and cultures have their traditions to celebrate essential people like mothers. People might refer to these celebrations as ‘Mother’s Day’ worldwide, even if it has different cultural background. But, of course, you’ll find a wealth of traditions relating to these events, too, like International Women’s Day.
Dates of Mother’s Day Around the World:
Second Sunday of February
Albania, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Bulgaria, Kazakhstan, Moldova, Russia, Serbia, Vietnam
Fourth Sunday of Lent
Guernsey, Ireland, Isle of Man, Jersey, Nigeria, United Kingdom
Egypt, Iraq, Jordan, Kuwait, Libya, Lebanon, Mauritania, Oman, Palestine, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, United Arab Emirates, Yemen
Mexico, El Salvador, Guatamala
Second Sunday of May
Antigua and Barbuda, Australia, Austria, Bahamas, Bangladesh, Barbados, Belgium, Bermuda, Bhutan, Botswana, Brazil, Canada, Cambodia, Cayman Islands, Central African Republic, Chile, China, Colombia, Croatia, Cuba, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Ecuador, Estonia, Ethiopia, Fiji, Finland, Gambia, Germany, Ghana, Greece, Greenland, Grenada, Guyana, Honduras, Hong Kong, Iceland, India, Italy, Jamaica, Japan, Kenya, Latvia, Liberia, Malaysia, Malta, Namibia, Netherlands, New Zealand, Pakistan, Papua New Guinea, Peru, Philippines, Puerto Rico, Samoa, Singapore, Slovakia
South Africa, Sri Lanka, Switzerland, Taiwan, Tanzania, Tonga, Trinidad, and Tobago, Turkey, Uganda, Ukraine, United States of America, Uruguay, Vietnam, Venezuela, Zambia, Zimbabwe
Last Sunday of May
Algeria, Cameroon, Dominican Republic, France, Haiti, Madagascar, Mali, Mauritius, Morocco, Niger, Senegal, Sweden, Tunisia
How do different countries around the world celebrate Mother’s Day?
Most places celebrate Mother’s Day with similar traditions of giving cards, flowers, and gifts to mothers or maternal figures that people want to honor. However, some places and cultures celebrate in different ways with their popular traditions and customs.
Here’s a list of just a few different places that celebrate Mother’s Day and how they put their stamp on the occasion.
In the UK, Mother’s Day occurs on the same day as the traditional Christian day, Mothering Sunday. It happens on the fourth Sunday during the Christian period of Lent. It used to be a day for people to go and visit the church where they were baptized or their regular church as a child, called their mother church. Mother’s Day date changes every year, even though it is no longer a religious celebration in the mainstream.
Nowadays, Mother’s Day is about celebrating mums and maternal figures who we want to show our gratitude and love for. Often people will send flowers, cards and children will hand make gifts and keepsakes to give their mum as a surprise.
America celebrates Mother’s Day, the second Sunday in May, the most popular day worldwide. The modern Mother’s Day, as many people know it originated in America by Anna Jarvis in 1907. She campaigned for a day to celebrate mothers as a tribute to her mother, who passed away in 1905. Her campaign continued until 1911, when Mother’s Day became a recognized holiday across every state in the USA.
Mother’s Day grew in popularity. Soon card companies created greeting cards, and the tradition of buying flowers and presents became a norm. Carnation flowers also became particularly associated with Mother’s Day, as they were Anna Jarvis’ mother’s favorite flower. Anna Jarvis objected to this change, believing that the holiday was becoming more about profit than sentimentality. After working on getting Mother’s Day recognized, she campaigned against this celebration for the rest of her life.
Mother’s Day in Australia is also celebrated on the second Sunday in May and began being celebrated in 1924. The tradition of gift-giving on Mother’s Day is said to have been started in Australia by Janet Heyden. In the aftermath of World War 1, there were a great many mothers who had lost their husbands and sons. So Janet Heyden began a campaign to give charitable gifts to them to make sure they still felt the love they deserved. It was a hit, and now gift-giving is a staple tradition for Mother’s Day worldwide.
Carnations, however, are less prevalent in Australia as they don’t flower during autumn. So, chrysanthemums are the more traditional Mother’s Day flower for Australians.
In Poland, Mother’s Day – or Dzień Matki – is always celebrated on the 26th of May every year, not changing date like many other countries. However, it isn’t treated as a public holiday.
Traditional celebrations also include gift and card making and giving. Children will make, decorate and write laurki, which are hand-made cards with paper flowers.
Día de las Madres is celebrated on the 10th of May every year in Mexico. It’s a huge event to celebrate mothers and honor them with the love they deserve. Families will come together to celebrate with music, food, and flowers.
People might hire bands and play songs to serenade their mothers, even waking them up with a song to start the day. One of the most famous music choices is Las Mañanitas, sung for birthday celebrations.
The evenings are full of food, bringing plenty of dishes to serve together or going out to eat. It’s the busiest day of the year for restaurants in Mexico!
In Nicaragua, Mother’s Day is celebrated each year on May 30th. The day is all about ensuring Nicaraguan mums get the recognition they deserve, with many schools and businesses closing for the day to allow families to come together and celebrate their wonderful mums, grandmothers, aunts, and any other motherly figures!
In Thailand, Mother’s Day is celebrated on the 12th of August as this is the birthday of their queen – Queen Sirikit. It was first celebrated in 1976, as Queen Sirikit is viewed as the mother of her country. The day celebrates her work to support the people of her country who are in need but also honors mothers all over the country. Because of this, charity is a big part of celebrations. Children will be involved in donating to monks and various charitable deeds to help show their gratitude.
It’s treated as a national holiday, which might include parades, fireworks, and celebrations. In addition, you’ll often see flag decorations and pictures of Queen Sirikit. It’s also traditional for children to gift their mother with jasmine flowers, symbolizing the purity of a mother’s love.
Unlike other celebrations for Mother’s Day worldwide, in Ethiopia, it lasts for three whole days. Taking place at the end of the rainy season in the autumn, it can happen in October or November, changing with the weather each year. The celebration of Antrosht celebrates mothers in communities and Mother Earth and all that we get from our planet.
It’s celebrated with three days of meals, songs, and dancing.
In Malawi, Mother’s Day takes place on the 15th of October every year, and it’s treated as a national holiday. This day is also World Rural Women’s Day and is often commemorated by a public speech by the president about the importance of mothers.
In Japan, Mother’s Day was initially celebrated on the 6th of March as this was the birthday of Empress Kōjun. However, in 1949 it was changed to the second Sunday in May, aligning with the most common date for Mother’s Day worldwide.
Red carnations are the most popular flower to give on Mother’s Day in Japan.
In Russia, Mother’s Day is celebrated on two dates across the year! It can be celebrated alongside International Women’s Day on the 8th of March and the last Sunday in November.
March 8th has a long history as a day for activism, kickstarting impactful revolutions in the early 20th century. Women-led protests have had a significant impact on the social and political landscape in Russia and countries across the world. Mother’s Day is a day for celebrating the effects of mothers and maternal figures on our lives and the culture around us. It’s a day for highlighting important issues which affect everyone, regardless of gender.
The Origins of Mother’s Day
Mother’s Day is celebrated in a variety of ways around the world. Although many cultures may celebrate the same holiday, how it’s integrated into society and how it’s viewed will be altered through each country’s cultural lens. However, this difference in celebration may also be because of how the holiday originated in each society, which is different for each country.
In past societies, such as Ancient Greece and Rome, festivals celebrated and honored Rhea and Cybele, the mother goddesses. Modern iterations of holidays to celebrate motherhood are most notably found in the Christian celebration of “Mothering Sunday.” It was formerly a significant tradition in the United Kingdom and certain parts of Europe, but it eventually faded in popularity over time. However, it was brought back to popularity when it was merged with the American Mother’s Day holiday in the mid-20th century.
The origins of Mother’s Day in America are linked to Anna Jarvis, who is seen as the creator of the modern Mother’s Day holiday. Initially, her mother put together a women’s group to promote health and friendship. Then, following her mother’s death in 1907, Jarvis held a memorial service at her mother’s church. However, this celebration didn’t stop at this church, and within five years, it had become a popular holiday until, in 1914, President Wilson made it a national holiday. This holiday is celebrated by wearing a pink carnation as a tribute to one’s maternal figure. Over time, sending gifts and cards was incorporated, as was celebrating a wider variety of women in the family, such as grandmothers and aunts.
However, due to the mass commercialization of this holiday, Jarvis spent the latter years of her life attempting to abolish the holiday.
In Australia, the holiday was first celebrated in 1924. A Sydney woman, Janet Heyden, frequented a hospital, and there she discovered many elderly, lonely mothers. Heyden sought to help them and gift them with tokens of thanks and celebration of their role as mothers. To do this, Heyden invited various schools and businesses to donate gifts to these women. It was a sensitive issue that many agreed to help with as many of these women had lost their sons and husbands in World War I or, as a consequence of the war, had never been a wife or mothers.
Because of the actions of Janet Heyden, Mother’s Day is typically celebrated on the second Sunday of May. Although it’s not recognized as an official holiday, many still celebrate it with their maternal figures.