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MOTHER’S DAY AROUND THE WORLD: 10 UNIQUE TRADITIONS & CELEBRATIONS

Written By: UMA Editorial Team |

Published on: May 10, 2024

Mothers are the sweetest things in the world, always up and ready for their little ones. And that is exactly why we have Mother’s Day to celebrate them. The world has always celebrated and honored moms. But it is interesting to note that Mother’s Day traditions can be so different across cultures and countries. So, let’s dig in and find out how the world celebrates Mother’s Day and how we can make this day special for our moms this year.

HISTORY OF MOTHER’S DAY

In the early 20th century, American social activist Anna Reeves Jarvis was deeply moved by her own mother’s sacrifices and wanted to find a way to honor all mothers for their unwavering dedication to their families. She envisioned a special day where everyone could express their love and gratitude for the maternal figures in their lives.

Jarvis’s idea gained momentum, leading to the first public Mother’s Day celebrations in West Virginia, Pennsylvania, and New York in 1907 and 1908. President Woodrow Wilson officially recognized the significance of Mother’s Day in 1914 by declaring the second Sunday in May as a national holiday dedicated to honoring mothers.

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UNITED STATES: POMP AND TRADITION

In the United States, Mother’s Day is a joyous occasion marked by heartfelt appreciation for the selfless love and care of mothers. Families seize the opportunity to indulge their moms, offering respite from household duties and showering them with tokens of affection. Whether through elaborate homemade dinners or leisurely lunches at beloved restaurants, children strive to make the day memorable for their mothers. Even across distances, heartfelt phone calls and flower bouquets serve as customary gestures of gratitude.

While Carnations hold symbolic importance as the official Mother’s Day flowers, chosen blooms often reflect individual maternal preferences. Additionally, the tradition of wearing flower corsages distinguishes between honoring living and deceased mothers, with pink and white carnations respectively.

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2

PERU: HONORING MOTHERS PAST AND PRESENT

In Peru, Mother’s Day is a joyous occasion filled with love, laughter, and remembrance. While families gather to celebrate mothers, aunts, and grandmothers who are still with them, they also pay tribute to those who have passed away. A unique tradition in Peru involves visiting cemeteries on Mother’s Day to honor the memories of departed loved ones. Despite the solemnity of the occasion, Peruvians embrace the opportunity to socialize, share food and drinks, and adorn gravesites with colorful decorations.

3

JAPAN: ARTISTIC EXPRESSIONS OF LOVE

In Japan, Mother’s Day, known as Haha no Hi, is celebrated on the second Sunday in May. Many customs are observed in the United States. However, one distinctive tradition involves children creating heartfelt expressions of love through art. During classroom activities, children often draw pictures of their mothers, which are then entered into art contests. This tradition, dating back to the 1950s, showcases the creativity and affection of Japanese children as they pay tribute to the special women in their lives.

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AUSTRALIA: FLOWERS FOR MUM 

Down under in Australia, Mother’s Day is celebrated with warmth and affection, much like in the United States. Australians honor their mothers on the second Sunday of May, often presenting them with bouquets. Carnations and chrysanthemums, in particular, are popular choices, with Chrysanthemums holding special significance as they reflect the endearing term “mum” used to address mothers in Australia.

5

MEXICO: MUSIC AND MERRIMENT 

In Mexico, Mother’s Day also called Día de las Madres is a vibrant and bustling affair, typically falling on May 10th each year. While flowers play a central role in honoring mothers, Mexican traditions add a lively twist to the celebration. Children prioritize spending time with their mothers on the eve of Mother’s Day, and the morning of May 10th often begins with Serenades by mariachi bands performing the beloved song “Las Mañanitas.” These musical tributes add an extra layer of joy and festivity to the occasion.

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THAILAND: A ROYAL CELEBRATION

Thailand’s Mother’s Day celebrated on August 12th, holds dual significance as it coincides with the birthday of Her Majesty Queen Sirikit, the Queen Mother. This auspicious day honors both the symbolic mother of the nation and mothers everywhere. Thai children express their gratitude with gifts of white jasmine flowers, symbolizing the purity of a mother’s love. Candle-lighting ceremonies and public fireworks displays further enrich the festive atmosphere, making Mother’s Day a truly royal celebration in Thailand. 

Majesty Queen Sirikit

7

INDIA: A FESTIVAL OF DEVOTION

In India, Mother’s Day takes on a spiritual dimension during the 10-day festival known as Durga Puja, typically held in October. Hindus honor Durga, the goddess of mothers, in a celebration that combines religious observances with family reunions. Families devote weeks to preparations, including cooking traditional foods, exchanging gifts, and adorning their homes for the festivities. Durga Puja is a time for reflection, gratitude, and the reaffirmation of familial bonds.

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ETHIOPIA: FESTIVE GATHERINGS 

Ethiopia’s Antrosht festival, held at the end of the rainy season in early fall, is a joyous celebration dedicated to mothers. Families come together from far and wide to share a lavish meal and revel in each other’s company. Daughters bring vegetables and cheese, while sons contribute meat, culminating in a communal feast. Traditional songs and dances add to the merriment, creating an atmosphere of joyous celebration and familial unity.

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UNITED KINGDOM: A HISTORICAL PERSPECTIVE 

In the United Kingdom, Mothering Sunday traces its origins back to the fourth Sunday of Lent. Originally a church custom, the holiday evolved, with young house servants returning home to spend time with their mothers. Today, Mothering Sunday remains grounded in religious traditions, with many churches distributing Daffodils for children to give to their mothers. Additionally, girls often bake fruitcakes as a heartfelt gesture of appreciation.

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FRANCE: MEDALS OF HONOR

France’s unique Mother’s Day traditions date back to the aftermath of World War I when the government began awarding medals to mothers of large families as a token of gratitude. Following World War II, the last Sunday in May was designated as the Day of Mothers, marked by the exchange of flower-shaped cakes and other tokens of appreciation. These medals serve as symbols of resilience, sacrifice, and the enduring strength of maternal love.

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In conclusion, Mother’s Day is a universal celebration that transcends borders and cultures, yet each country imbues it with its unique customs and traditions. From heartfelt gestures of love and appreciation to vibrant festivities honoring mothers past and present, these diverse celebrations remind us of the profound impact mothers have on our lives. As we commemorate Mother’s Day each year, let us not only express our gratitude to our mothers but also celebrate the enduring spirit of motherhood that unites us all.

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