Mother’s Day Around the World
Mark your calendar… a couple of times. Mother’s Day is celebrated across the globe in different ways, on different days
Sure, “every day is Mother’s Day” in a perfect, Hallmark-heavy world, but in reality, this doesn’t always ring true. When the U.S. congress first approved Mother’s Day as a national holiday in 1914, President Woodrow Wilson fixed the annual day of maternal glory as the second Sunday in May. Other countries have also allotted a certain day—or, in Ethiopia, a certain phase of the weather cycle—for celebration. And while some customs veer torwards universal (kids make cards, husbands give flowers, older sons and daughters make a point of calling home), we investigated how the celebration varies from country to country.
Historians have suggested that England was the first nation to formally celebrate Mother’s Day—known at the time (circa 1600) as “Mothering Sunday.” On the fourth Sunday of Lent, all children who had left their homes to work as apprentices (a great majority at the time) were permitted, on this special day, to leave their masters and visit their mothers in church. Today, the British celebrate the holiday on March 18.
While the majority of South America celebrates motherhood in May, Argentina postpones the celebration until October. As the she story goes, this shift was inspired by the liturgical date (October 11) on which Argentinians celebrate the Virgin Mary, though the delayed timing also coincides more fluidly with the local springtime. After all, what good is Mother’s Day without flowers for the picking?
In Thailand, Mother’s Day is celebrated on August 12, the birthday of Queen Sirikit, who has reigned for over 50 years. Today, it is customary for children to kneel down before their mothers, presenting them with white jasmine flowers (the symbol of maternal love) while expressing their gratitude. Mothers bestow blessings on to their children in return.
Call it poetic, but the timing of Mother’s Day in Ethiopia depends on the weather—the rain in particular. When the rain season ends, a three-day celebration of feasting (known as “Antrosht”) commences. During this time, children show appreciation for their mothers, and family at large, by demonstrating their maturity (and doing all the work!). Specifically, they prepare bull, lamb, and traditional hash.
The process of buying, giving, and receiving gifts may be central to Mother’s Day, but in Sweden, “Mors Dag” takes on a more charitable undertone. In the weeks leading up to the May holiday, the national Red Cross sells plastic flowers—perfect for your lapel. All profits go directly to Swedish mothers and children in need. —Lucie Alig