No matter where you live, there is one thing that we all have in common - we all have a mother. With everything our mothers have done for us – from giving us life, to wiping our tears, to putting a smile on our faces, and more; our mothers deserved to be celebrated.
Mother’s Day was first celebrated in the UK on “Mothering Sunday” which falls on the fourth Sunday in Lent, three weeks before Easter. This is a time when mothers and other maternal figures such as stepmothers, grandmothers and mothers-in-law have been celebrated and appreciated. The UK tradition actually has religious origins and it came from a custom of visiting your “mother” church on this particular Sunday. Over the years the day turned into a family reunion and a chance for children who were working away from the home to return and visit their mothers.
Meanwhile, in the US in 1908, social activist Anna Jarvis was lobbying the government for the creation of the modern Mother’s Day as we know it today which is celebrated on the second Sunday of May. And over the next couple of decades, Mother’s Day became a popular tradition and started to become more commercial with gift and flower giving, Sunday brunches, cards, etc.
A version of Mother’s Day originated in Japan after World War II (also on the second Sunday of May) as a way of comforting mothers who had lost their sons in the war. During this holiday mothers are given carnations, as they represent a mother’s kindness and patience. The tradition is to give your mother red carnations, or to display a white carnation if your mother has passed away. Other traditional gifts that mothers in Japan might receive include red or pink kimonos, perfumes or decorative mother and baby dolls. It is also common for the family to go out for a meal on this special day.
In Mexico, Mother’s Day is celebrated on May 10th. When the concept of Mother’s Day was brought into Mexico at first in 1922 from the USA, it was discouraged by the conservative government but over the years, the notion changed and it is now regarded as a significant holiday. Typically, adult children take their mother out for dinner and this is one of the busiest nights of the year for restaurants in Mexico. The other traditions associated with the day include giving flowers and enjoying live music by Mariachi singers.
The Thai people celebrate the birthday of Her Majesty Queen Sirikit on August 12th. Since the Queen is regarded as a mother figure to all Thai people, this is also considered a type of Mother’s Day. Since 1976 this day has been associated with celebrations honoring mothers and families all over Thailand will decorate their houses with flags and portraits of the Queen and fireworks and parades are common in urban areas. The Thai people also mark this day by showing appreciation to their own mothers. A traditional gift for mothers here is white jasmine flowers, as they symbolize the purity of a mother’s love. It is also customary to do acts of charity or make donations and offerings on this day.
Mother’s Day in Germany is called “Muttertag” and it also occurs on the second Sunday in May. The tradition of Mother’s Day in Germany was started as a political one, as it was a day to honor women who had produced children for the fatherland. However, over time, Mother’s Day became similar to the holiday we are familiar with - a time to give gifts of appreciation to our mothers.
Even the people of Ethiopia celebrate a form of Mother’s Day. It takes place during the end of the rainy season, during the three day festival of Antrosht - which is dedicated to mothers. It happens during the autumn, unlike most other Mother’s Day festivals that take place in the spring. Traditionally during this time, the sons will bring meat such as bull or lamb and the daughters will bring butter, spices, cheese and vegetables. After the meal there will be ceremonial dances and songs. The cycle of feasting and dancing lasts an entire three days.
And while Mother’s Day might not be an official holiday in all countries, we should all take a moment to recognize our mothers and pay them respect with love, affection and well wishes. Happy Mother’s Day to all of the moms in the world.