Mother’s Day Traditions Worldwide

Even though they deserve love and gratitude all year round, we set aside a special day for our mothers – and mother figures. In the United States, Australia, New Zealand, and Canada it always falls on the second Sunday in May, but many other countries celebrate at different times of the year. Read on for more ways people around the world honor their moms on their special day.

Mother’s Day, known in Ireland as Mothering Sunday, is celebrated on the fourth Sundayin Lent; this goes back to a medieval Catholic tradition of giving children who worked away from home to return to their “mother church”, and their mothers, for mass and a visit. They’d gather flowers on their way and give them to their mothers.

Mexican mothers get not only Mother’s Day itself (May 10th, in that culture), but also Mother’s Day Eve, when all children, even those who are grown and no longer live with their parents, return home to spend time with their mothers. Special church services are held in their honor on the 10th and everyone enjoys a traditional meal of tamales and atole – not cooked by the mothers!

In Spain, Mother’s Day comes at the opposite end of the year, on December 8th, and has some religious aspects as people celebrate not only their mothers but also the virgin Mary.

Japanese Mother’s Day was originally aligned with the birthday of the Empress Koujun, but after her passing, it was moved to the second Sunday in May. Flowers are a particularly popular expression of love in this country.

Thailand also tied the date of their motherly celebrations to their female leader’s birthday, so they celebrate on August 12th with Queen Sirikit. Parades and public celebrations take place throughout the country, and fragrant jasmine flowers are the traditional gift.

Mother’s Day is second only to Christmas as the most widely (and commercially) celebrated holiday in Brazil. Children organize special performances and church services are held, followed by large, festive barbecues with family and friends.

Whether you’re planning to pick up some flowers and a card, cook a special meal, or break out the grill, don’t forget to mark your calendar this May 8th to show your mom some love!


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