Mum, mom, mamá, mère – we may call our mothers different names across the globe, but we all share one feeling, that motherhood is something to celebrate! To thank our mums for nurturing and supporting us throughout our lives, Mother’s Day is the perfect time to give something back and treat them to something extra special, but how do the traditions differ from country to country? In this guide, we take a trip around the world to discover how Mother’s Day is celebrated in different cultures.
In Mexico, Mother’s Day is one of the most important holidays of the year and is called Dia de la Madres. The day traditionally starts with children waking up their mothers in the morning, often with music whilst singing a song. And, the creativity doesn’t stop there as it’s also very common for children to put on small performances or skits to entertain their mothers throughout the day.
As, in Mexico, many mothers fall into a traditional home keeper role and do most of the cooking, on Mother’s Day restaurants around the country are filled to ensure that she doesn’t have to lift a finger.
Dann, known online as The Dream Packer, was born in Mexico, she told us more about the importance of Mother’s Day and what it means to her: “Mexico is a matriarchal society. Mums are highly respected in the country, and that is why Mother’s Day is very important for its citizens. The holiday takes place on May 10th, and it usually involves a meal in a fancy restaurant (bookings need to be made way in advance), flowers and different presents. For me, I think Mother’s Day is the perfect opportunity to even out the balance. Mexican mothers tend to be very devoted, and they take care of others more than they take care of themselves, so it is nice to have an exclusive day to celebrate them and make them the centre of attention for a change.”
On the other side of the globe in Japan, Mother’s Day is also taken very seriously. Just like here in the UK, flowers are often gifted as a sign of thanks.
Something that doesn’t happen in the UK though, is an art competition. In Japan, there is a fun tradition around the country where children draw portraits of their mother’s to be entered into a national competition. The winning pictures are then shown in art shows around the country. Showing just how much Japans prides itself on its mums.
Michela from Warm Cheap Trips lives in Japan and spoke to us about how it is celebrated there: “Mother’s day in Japan is now celebrated on the second Sunday of May (in the past it was March 6th, the birthday of Kojun Empress) and is a day to celebrate the person who usually takes care of the house and the family.
“Children and husbands usually wake up early and greet the mum with a bunch of flowers. The most popular flowers are carnations, a symbol of purity, sweetness and endurance, like the mother’s qualities. Often also roses are gifted.”
“Then, children assisted by the father cook the meals of the day. Most popular recipes are with egg, to symbolize the birth given by the mother. For this reason, popular dishes eaten on Mother’s Day in Japan are tamagoyaki (a grilled omelette), oyakodon (a bowl of rice with chicken and egg) and chawanmushi (custard egg).”
As we skip across the pond, we see a Mother’s Day that looks a lot like our own. Celebrated on the second Sunday in May, it is thought that the first official Mother’s Day celebration in the US took place in St. Andrew’s Methodist Church in West Virginia in 1908. To this day, it can be a religious day for those of faith, who often visit church.
Carnations are also the flower of choice in the US for gifting on Mother’s Day. This is because 500 of them were delivered by Anna Jarvis on the first Mother’s Day in 1908 and the tradition has continued, with many religious services giving away carnations and many people also adopting to wear carnations on the day itself.
Since 1908 though, Mother’s Day has become a heavily commercialised affair in the US, much to many traditionalist’s dismay. Anna Jarvis even went as far as to oppose what the day had become in the country, saying that she wished she had never even started the day.
Falling on the second Sunday of May each year, a Mother’s Day in Peru is all about showing love and appreciation. Giving flowers to the mum or mother figure in their life is a tradition amongst Peruvians. Plus, young children often create handmade gifts for their mums as well as joining in the preparations for a family dinner.
Peru is perhaps one of the most enthusiastic countries when it comes to Mother’s Day, with one tradition involving honouring female ancestors. People gather in the cemeteries during the day to clean and decorate the graves with flowers. The nearby streets become lined with vendors selling food, drink, balloons and flowers for people to purchase during the celebrations.
Known as Fête des Mères, Mother’s Day in France is traditionally celebrated on the last Sunday of May, unless it falls on the same day as the Pentecost, in which case it is moved to the first weekend in June.
It is popularly believed that the idea of Mother’s Day in France was thought of in 1806 by Napoleon Bonaparte, a French Statesman and military leader. However, it wasn’t introduced until later in the 19th Century when the French government grew concerned about the declining celebration, and thereby celebrated the mothers of large families. The mothers of many children were awarded medals for rebuilding the population after it declined in World War 1. It was in 1950 that Mother’s Day became an official celebration with a fixed date.
Nowadays, mothers are more likely to receive flowers and gifts from their families rather than a medal. It’s also a popular tradition to have a large family meal together in honour of their mother, making the day a celebratory family affair.
We asked Paola from The French Life to share her Mother’s Day ideas: “A perfect way to celebrate Mother's Day in Paris would be to treat your mother to brunch at Angelina, a beautiful Belle-Époque tea room famous for their thick, African hot chocolate and delectable Mont Blanc pastry. You could also surprise her with a special picnic (complete with pink champagne) at Jardin du Luxembourg, which is beautiful and in full bloom during the month of May. My favourite way to spoil my mother, however, would be bringing her a huge bouquet of pink roses and then cooking her a special meal at home.”
Traditionally referred to as Mothering Sunday, in the UK, Mother’s Day is celebrated on the fourth Sunday of Lent. It is believed that Mother’s Day in the UK has strong religious ties, as it was derived during the 16th century when it was the tradition for Catholics and Protestants to revisit the church they attended as a child. This mainly happened for those who worked as domestic servants and they were given the day off to visit their families and church. However, these days many people celebrate Mother’s Day by showering their mum with gifts and dinner in their favourite restaurant or a home-cooked meal.
Sonia from the family lifestyle blog Mummy Constant, tells us about the Mother’s Day traditions in her household: “It’s a day of appreciation in my opinion. We always spend Mother’s Day with our Mums and having a Sunday roast together. We alternate this between families, so we ensure we see everyone. I love the day as I usually get breakfast in bed and huge cuddles from the kiddies, followed by homemade cards and a surprise gift. Mother’s Day means appreciation for the Mother’s out there. Simply put, show her you love her. Spend some time with her - but not just on that one day.”
We also asked Jo from the family blog Guilty Mother for her thoughts on what Mother’s Day is all about in the UK: “It’s a day to take the opportunity to say 'thank you’ to all the amazing mothers and maternal figures of every age who define what motherhood really means. The kindness, support and love shown from a mother is a special thing and should be celebrated. In most instances, families around the UK will use Mother’s Day as a day to give thanks and it can be the little things that mean so much. Celebrating all that our mothers do for us is the name of the game, be that by giving flowers, making them breakfast or sending a card. Some people may choose to splash out on an afternoon tea or spa treatment but often most mothers are just happy and pleased with a heartfelt card, flowers and a big thank you.
“A relaxed day with my family where I can feel a little bit spoilt is what I would want for Mother’s Day. Some handmade cards from my children, flowers and possibly a traditional pub Sunday lunch would be fabulous, as I won’t be doing the cooking that day! This year will be even more special as we are expecting our third baby in mid-February 2020.”
Do you think your mum deserves a treat? Why not search for spa packages near me to treat her to a relaxing day at a luxury spa? Or, give her some well-deserved recognition by nominating her for the Fabulous Mum Of The Year Award, where she could win an overnight stay for two at a Champneys spa of her choice! You can nominate your wonderful mum by filling in some details and explaining why your mum is the best, here.