Africa & The Middle East | Inspiration

The different ways (and days) that Mother's Day is celebrated around the world

Recently updated on August 1st, 2023 at 03:56 pm

Honoring and appreciating our moms is a common tradition all over the world, but every country does it a little differently. From the different origins and days to the unique traditions and customs, here’s how Mother’s Day is celebrated across the globe.

United States

Similar to Canada and Australia, Mother’s Day in the United States falls on the second Sunday in May. The first US Mother’s Day was celebrated in 1908, when Anna Jarvis, held a memorial for her late mother. Anna campaigned to establish a special day that honoured all mothers and in 1914, it had gained so much traction that President Woodrow Wilson declared the second Sunday in May a national holiday. The tradition of pampering moms with cards, flowers and gifts took off from there!

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Happy Mother's Day balloons

Serbia

A common Mother’s Day tradition around the world is to let your mom have a sleep-in. But in Serbia, they take it a little more literally. Mother’s Day is part of a three-day celebration of family in December, including Father’s Day and Children’s Day. On Mother’s Day, it’s tradition for children to sneak into their mom’s bedroom in the morning and tie her feet together with ribbon or cloth so she can’t get up. To be set free, mom has to give treats or gifts to her children! The same thing happens to the dads on Father’s Day. Then on Children’s Day, it’s the kid’s turn to have their feet tied until they promise to be on their best behaviour. 

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Ethiopia

Antrosht is a three-day celebration honoring motherhood in Ethiopia. It happens at the end of the wet season in fall, and once the rain clears, family members from all over the country travel to their family homes. It’s tradition for children to bring ingredients to their homes to prepare a big feast. While daughters bring cheese, vegetables and spices, sons usually bring different meats. Together, they prepare the celebratory meal and also perform traditional songs and dances as part of the festivities. 

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mother and daughter smiling and embracing

Bolivia

The history of Mother’s Day in Bolivia dates back to May 27, 1812, when a group of Bolivian women fought back against the Spanish Army for the freedom of their country. In 1927, May 27 was declared an official holiday, to celebrate women and mothers and pay tribute to those who sacrificed their lives for the country. Children traditionally give gifts and cake to their mothers or put on special performances.

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France

Fête des Mères is held on the last Sunday of May or the first Sunday of June if Pentecost falls on the last Sunday of May. The first Mother’s Day was celebrated in Lyon in 1918, in honor of the mothers and wives who lost their sons and husbands during World War I. In 1920, the French established a day to recognise mothers of large families as thanks for helping rebuild the population after World War I. 

Mother’s Day was officially recognised in France in 1926. The day is still marked by an official ceremony presenting medals to mothers of large families to show gratitude. Known as the Médaille de la Famille, it’s awarded to families who have done well in raising several children.

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macarons and flowers

Peru

In the week leading up to Dia de la Madre in Peru, there are many celebrations held to pay tribute to mothers across the country. On the day, celebrated on the second Sunday in May, many families also visit the cemetery to remember their beloved mothers, grandmothers and sisters who have passed. They will spend time cleaning the graves and decorating them with flowers to honor their deceased family.

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Nepal

Mata Tirtha Aunshi is celebrated in Nepal on the day of the new moon in Baisakh. This is the month of the Nepali Hindu calendar that aligns with April/May in the Gregorian calendar. During the festival, children show love and respect to their mothers by offering them sweets, clothing and other gifts. Many families also travel to Matatirtha Kunda, a Hindu temple in Nepal. When people make offerings at this temple, it’s said to bring good fortune to their mothers. 

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woman smiling while holding a bunch of pink flowers

Mexico

Día de las Madres (Mother’s Day) is celebrated on May 10th every year in Mexico. It’s common for children to give cards and presents to their mothers, go to church, or enjoy a meal together. It’s common to see children playing music and putting on performances for their moms. You’ll also see mariachi bands serenading mothers with beautiful, traditional songs. 

United Kingdom

The UK day for moms is celebrated on the fourth Sunday of Lent. Known as Mothering Sunday, it originated in the 1700s when people and families who had moved away, returned to their original or “mother” church. It’s since evolved into a day to pay tribute to mothers, although many churches still hand out daffodils for children to give to their mothers. You’ll find most people shower their moms with gifts, cards, and flowers, or enjoy a Mother’s Day meal together. It was also once a popular tradition for girls to bake a fruitcake for their mothers. 

How do you celebrate Mother’s Day? Let us know in the comments below!

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