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Mother's Day Traditions from Around the World

Written by Ariana Crisafulli


Posted on May 09 2021


Near and far, no matter where in the world you are, one thing we all have in common is that we all have a mother. Mothers literally give us life; they care for us and feed us, they soothe us when we're upset and they cheer for us when we succeed. This holds true of mothers everywhere in the world, which is why every corner of the world celebrates motherhood. We may not all do it in the same exact way, but each culture has their own unique ways of telling mom "I love you." In this blog post, we'll explore some incredible Mother's Day traditions from different cultures.


India is very culturally and socio-politcally diverse, so different parts of the subcontinent celebrate in different ways. In modern cities, many have adapted a western tradition of Mother's Day, buying mom flowers and candies and spoiling her on the second Sunday in May. But the older, more rural parts of India say, 'why have only one day to celebrate motherhood?' That's why every October they celebrate the Mother Goddess, Durga, for ten days during what's called Durga Puja. This ceremony honors the triumph of good over evil, and is celebrated with dancing, feasts, family reunions, and gifts to friends and family.


Another country that dedicates more than one day to mom is Ethiopia. Their celebration of mothers is called Antrosht and it lasts for three days after the rainy season. When the weather has all cleared up, the families get together to have a big feast, the main course of which is a hash of vegetables and bull or lamb meat. The daughters usually supply the vegetables while the sons bring the meat for the meal. Then all the families celebrate with dancing, singing, and telling stories of family heroes.


In Serbia, Mother's Day is part of a series of holidays on three consecutive Sundays in December, celebrating mothers, fathers, and children, and their traditions are quite bizarre! (but also sound like lots of fun). The first Sunday is Children's Day, and the parents tie the kids up (no, really) and won't untie them until they promise to be good. On the second Sunday it's mom's turn to be tied up. She won't be released until she agrees to give the kiddos lots of treats. On the third Sunday it's dad that is bound, and he won't be set free until he gives everyone Christmas gifts, at which point everyone has a big Christmas celebration!


In the United Kingdom, Mother's Day goes by the name 'Mothering Sunday.' It takes place on the fourth Sunday of Lent every year, and was originally not about mothers at all. Instead it had very religious overtones; families would go to their 'mother church' on Mothering Sunday. However, as the world has become more secular, Mothering Sunday has begun to look more like our Mother's Day, with families celebrating their mothers and wives, bringing her lots of treats and showering her with affection.


Japan is another country where the meaning of mother's day has changed quite a bit over time. Mother's day in Japan was celebrated even before World War I, but the celebrations halted briefly during World War II. After the Second World War, Mother's Day took on a different meaning. It was celebrated to honor and comfort mothers who had lost children during the war. Today the tradition has evolved again, turning into a typical western-style mothers day with families spoiling the mothers in their lives. Usually children give their mothers red or white carnations which symbolize the gentle strength of mothers.


Fete des Meres was originally started by Napoleon, who gave medals to families with a large number of children. This tradition was continued after World War I when large families meant rebuilding a nation devastated by vast casualties. Today it's celebrated on the last Sunday of May or the first Sunday of June and is marked by pampering mom and giving her a cake shaped like a flower bouquet. Sometimes children still present their mothers with medals, and what mom doesn't deserve a medal?

No matter which culture, it's heartwarming to see that countries around the world revere and love their mothers. And to that, we raise our Mother's Day mimosas and say cheers!